Five Play Prospect: Evaluating Penn State WR Transfer Justin Shorter
Though we had previously moved onto the defensive side of the ball in the GatorMaven "Five Play Prospect' series, some big news on Sunday reverted the film room back to the offensive side of the ball.
Following his commitment to Florida on January 26th, Justin Shorter is a hot name around the Gators program as Dan Mullen has added yet another former five star to the program via the NCAA transfer portal.
Shorter has every tool you could ask for to be an elite wide receiver in current day college football, based on his high school film. To start, Shorter stands at 6-4, 235 lbs., and has astounding 4.5 speed for that size, which is clear as day on film. His body control and catch radius are impressive and obviously he is a red-zone target with his size.
Although Shorter's snap counts were fairly high, he didn't see many targets at Penn State in his two years. His final game against Ohio State was his best game in Happy Valley, as he posted three receptions for 28 yards.
Shorter only was targeted 19 times in his ten games in 2019, despite playing 284 snaps at wide receiver. He caught 12 of those 19 throws, only dropping two of the seven incompletions. On those 12 catches, Shorter added 137 receiving yards (24 after the catch, per PFF), posting a long of 18, which came against Ohio State.
His 4.5 speed is on display here, as Shorter turns a screen pass into a 52-yard touchdown. He'll fit right into Dan Mullen's quick passing game, as he can turn shorter (ba-dum-tss) plays into touchdowns with ease.
Shorter's acceleration is incredible to watch as his long strides make beating defensive backs look effortless. Once Shorter hits the edge he is near impossible to catch, and it will be interesting to see how he can compete against defensive backs with similar speed in the SEC.
Throughout his high school career, the South Brunswick star took snaps as a wildcat QB and oftentimes got the ball in the backfield on pitches and sweeps to make a play on the edge.
This will also translate to Florida, as Mullen loves to create different ways to get his playmakers the ball in space. Josh Hammond notably scored on a long sweep in 2019, and I would love to see how Mullen can get the most of Shorter's talent.
Catching the ball is a clear strong suit for Shorter and his ability to adjust badly thrown balls is something that is hard to teach.
It's no question that Shorter's ball skills are elite, as he can go up and get any ball that is thrown his way. The New Jersey native also played defensive back in high school, racking up multiple interceptions along the way.
His body positioning on the sideline is flawless, as he can always get a foot down to record a completion.
With Shorter joining the squad, the Gators will add another deep threat to the wide receiver room, as Shorter's wide catch radius and top-end speed should get him some reps in the deep passing game moving forward (as long as the quarterback can get it there).
Clearly there is a whole lot of potential in Shorter's game. Aside from all his strengths, I'd like to see him further his route-running skills and footwork, as that is one area that he could take to the next level. Shorter has everything you can ask for in a wide receiver, but the one missing piece to his game is his route running.
Still, this should be something that WR coach Billy Gonzales can teach him throughout the offseason, as every Florida receiver was working with some of the best WR coaches in the game last offseason.
Florida fans should be very excited about this acquisition through the transfer portal, as Mullen has proven time and time again that he has an elite eye for talent. There is a reason that Florida was the first school to reach out to Shorter, as he has all the intangibles to become Florida's next elite receiver.
It is still undetermined if Shorter will be available for next season or not, but you can expect Shorter to enroll at Florida in the summer.