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Meet The 2018 Class: Five-Star WR Justin Shorter

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Taking a prospect-by-prospect look at Penn State’s elite 2018 recruiting class.

A recruitment that James Franklin described as drama free, Justin Shorter committed to Penn State prior to his junior season on August 6, 2016. While Shorter was a highly-touted prospect back then, he blew up following a MVP performance at Nike’s The Opening camp in New Jersey, and only further proved his five-star rating at the Under Armour All-America game earlier this month.

Vitals

Position Hometown High School Height/Weight 247Composite Rank
Position Hometown High School Height/Weight 247Composite Rank
Wide Receiver Monmouth Junction, NJ South Brunswick 6-foot-4, 220 pounds Five-star (0.9962)

Highlights

Scouting Report

Where to even start with Justin Shorter? At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, he has prototypical size and length for the position, and carries his weight extremely well. While I wouldn’t expect him to put on much more weight — if any, at all — he certainly has the frame to hold 225-230 pounds if he chooses to do so.

Shorter is an elite athlete, too, boasting numbers — 4.52-second 40-yard dash and a 34.2-inch vertical — that compare favorably to New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl wideout Michael Thomas. This is certainly a situation though where I expect his numbers to improve once he’s training at a college level. Dwight Galt was able to improve Saquon Barkley’s and Lamont Wade’s 40-time by a few clicks, and I believe that will be the case with Shorter, too.

Despite playing in a Wing T offense, Shorter was a productive wideout, hauling in 36 receptions for 522 yards and 7 touchdowns during his senior season. He also played a big part in the run game, carrying the ball 32 times for 322 yards and 4 touchdowns. No surprise, but South Brunswick was looking to get the ball in Shorter’s hands as much as possible, and it’s easy to see why.

While you could point to and rave about a number of Shorter’s attributes, what first jumps out is his acceleration. The way he’s able to get to top speed so quickly — especially at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds — is unbelievable. Watch as he flares out for a bubble screen, and before even crossing the line of scrimmage, he’s already at full speed.

Shorter shines as a deep threat because of his size and speed, but the New Jersey wideout is more than a one-trick pony. In the short and intermediate passing game, Shorter already shows a strong understanding of route running concepts, especially considering the offense he’s coming from. He excels at finding the soft spot in the zone, and is able to use his body to shield off defenders to make tough, chain-moving grabs.

The one area where Shorter could look to improve is being more consistent with catching the ball away from his body. He sometimes doesn’t attack the ball when it’s in the air, and instead catches it with his body.

Outlook

No surprise here, but Shorter won’t be redshirted, and should see plenty of playing time right away. While I expect he’ll push Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins for playing time on the outside, I could also see a scenario where Shorter sees some time inside. With Penn State losing Mike Gesicki, I think you’ll see the Nittany Lions go with more four wide receiver sets, which means Ricky Rahne will have the opportunity to get creative with Shorter.

It’s tough to place such high expectations on a true freshman, but the Nittany Lions haven’t had a wideout of Shorter’s caliber in a very long time. He has the chance to be the No. 1 wide receiver year one, and has the potential to have an All-American level career — he’s that good.