Senior DE Josh Shirley leaves Washington Huskies football team

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Summer is well underway, and as we anxiously await the start of college football media days, we're bound to have a story or two pop up that catches us by surprise. Case in point?

Washington defensive end Josh Shirley has left the team and will no longer play for the Huskies. The school confirmed the departure to The Seattle Times.

A source told The Times that the 6-foot-3, 228-pound end would like to play his senior season closer to his native Southern California.

Shirley burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman at Washington and racked up 8.5 sacks in addition to starting seven games. Some were touting him as a possible early NFL draft pick, but he failed to deliver on the promise he showed and regressed each subsequent season. He was moved into a backup role as a pass-rushing specialist in 2013 but finished with just three sacks and 13 tackles on the year.

Still, the former star recruit was expected to be a part of the Huskies' rotation this season under new head coach Chris Petersen and certainly would have added some depth to an already solid front seven.

At the heart of the matter could be the playing time that Shirley has seen slip away over the past few years.

Shirley signed with UCLA out of high school, but failed to appear in a game for the Bruins. He was dismissed from the team in the summer of 2010 after he and teammates Shaquille Richardson and Paul Richardson were arrested on suspicion of felony theft. They later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

Listed as a senior, Shirley could end up graduating and playing right away at a program such as Fresno State or San Diego State. There are also a large number of junior college options and FCS schools that could be in play to land him if he does decide to transfer closer to home.

Despite the loss of Shirley, new defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski has plenty to work with in Seattle with a talented defensive line that returns everybody from last season's unit (41 sacks, second best in the Pac-12) and features an NFL draft prospect in senior tackle Danny Shelton.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter *@BryanDFischer.*

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