Gators HC Dan Mullen Expects WR Justin Shorter to Be an 'Impact Player'
Photo credit: University of Florida athletic association
News broke late last Thursday that Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Justin Shorter had received immediate eligibility from the NCAA following his January transfer from Penn State.
There were early praises for Shorter's work ethic and performance "leading the way" in fall camp from head coach Dan Mullen, as Shorter stepped into the rotation when three Gators receivers held out of practice for the first week. Now that Shorter will factor into the gameplan, Mullen had more to share when speaking with the media on Monday.
"He has a great attitude," said Mullen. "He works hard, very physical player, talented, has size, has speed. You know, and can make explosive plays down the field."
Shorter profiles well as an X-receiver, much like senior Trevon Grimes given their size and speed combinations. Shorter was most recently listed at 6-4, 226 lbs. on the Nittany Lions' 2019 roster, having clocked a 4.52 40-yard dash in high school. Often relied upon against physical cornerbacks in isolated matchups at the boundary to make contested catches, Grimes (6-5, 214 lbs., 4.47) and Shorter figure to primarily rotate at the X this year.
Another positive Mullen has seen from Shorter is his willingness to block, key at each receiver position but especially expected from longer, physical players on the outside.
"I mean, great physical blocker the point of attack," said Mullen. "You can see he's a little bit of an older guy, he's not a new guy coming in, he's a veteran guy that's played some football so he understands the importance of the complete game... Blocking is just as important as catching a 50-yard touchdown pass."
Shorter has yet to bring in a 50-yard touchdown pass or something of the sort in his college career. During two seasons at Penn State, across 358 snaps, Shorter caught just 15 passes for 157 yards. However, the Gators are known for deploying a rotation at wide receiver to keep players fresh and create matchup issues for opposing defenses, and his raving early reviews indicate Shorter should see his production improve moving forward.
"I think he'll be an impact player for us this year," Mullen said.
"I think Justin’s got a great work ethic," he continued. "You take a guy with a great work ethic and you put him with a great coach," he continued, hinting at Gators' wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales, "and you’re going to see big strides. You’ve seen that out of Justin."