Not long after he pledged his return to Westwood, Jay Shaw is on his way out of town.
The UCLA football cornerback previously announced he would be coming back for his sixth year in the program back on Jan. 5 in an Instagram post. Two weeks later, however, Shaw has changed gears and entered the NCAA transfer portal, he announced on Instagram on Monday.
Shaw has one year of eligibility remaining.
In the since-deleted original Instagram post, Shaw wrote a heartfelt note about the 40-year decision he made when he committed to UCLA back in high school, and that he knew it was the place for him moving forward.
A great deal of things happened and could have happened since that post, though, with defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro's resignation and coach Chip Kelly's contract extension chief among them. Defensive backs coach Brian Norwood is seen as a candidate to replace Azzinaro, but there are also rumblings that he could be in the running to take the new opening at Hawaii.
On top of possible staff changeups, Shaw may not have liked what he saw from the master's programs available to him at UCLA, which is what he said he was going to pursue earlier in January.
Shaw is one of five Bruins who has played in all 43 games since Kelly took over ahead of the 2018 season. Defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia and receiver Chase Cota are two of the others, and they declared for the 2022 NFL Draft and entered the transfer portal, respectively. That leaves only interior offensive lineman Atonio Mafi and safety Stephan Blaylock as the only ones left who have appeared in every game Kelly has coached over the past four years.
Shaw was primarily a special teams player and nickel back in 2018, then he nudged his way further into the lineup by starting four games in 2019. The following season, he started all seven games for UCLA.
The defensive backfield was more crowded than it had been in several years in 2021, though, so Shaw lost his grip on an official starting job when things kicked off in the fall. By midseason, though, he had reclaimed it, and he started the Bruins' final five games of the season.
Even taking into account his decreased share of defensive snaps, Shaw put up career numbers in 2021. Shaw racked up 27 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, three interceptions, four pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. According to Pro Football Focus, Shaw boasted the fourth-best grade among Pac-12 and Mountain West cornerbacks this past season at 82.7.
Shaw accumulated 88 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, six interceptions, 12 pass breakups, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a blocked kick across his four years playing for UCLA.
The Bruins' secondary was already going to be facing some major changes this offseason, and Shaw's decision has created yet another hole. Cornerback Obi Eboh, cornerback Cameron Johnson and striker Qwuantrezz Knight are out of eligibility, safety Quentin Lake declared for the NFL Draft and safety DJ Warnell and cornerback Shamar Martin are entering the portal alongside Shaw.
Rising sophomore Devin Kirkwood is the only starting cornerback on track to return, and if Mo Osling III does not come back for his super senior year, he could be the only one out of the group's five-man rotation back next season. Former Wyoming and Arizona transfer Azizi Hearn committed to UCLA on Sunday, so he will provide some veteran stability at the position.
The Bruins have now had 14 players enter the portal since the end of the regular season.
The technical rules in terms of scholarships and transfers are complicated enough in a normal year, but with super seniors still a thing and COVID-19 eligibility extensions being granted across the country, it gets even more messy. Essentially, schools are allowed to add up to 25 new scholarship players each cycle, but that number goes up for every outgoing transfer.
That figure maxes out at 32, however, and with 14 players in the transfer portal, the Bruins are far past the point where they cannot replace additional departures should any more players declare their intentions to leave the program.
Catch up on all the transfer market news related to UCLA at All Bruins' transfer portal tracker.