In a five-part series, I will count down the top five Penn State Football players I am excited to watch for the 2019 season. With such a young team filled with potential, this list was very difficult to make. With all that said, let’s get this list going and start with a former top recruit on the outside of the offensive formation.
Coming in with Hype
When you hear a wide receiver having a 6’4” 235 lb frame, you think of some of the recent NFL greats with large frames like that. Calvin Johnson, a future Hall of Famer comes to mind. Julio Jones, another wide out that could be walking into Canton is another great example. Penn State has one of their own with this type of frame at wide receiver. That man is Justin Shorter.
Shorter came to Happy Valley as the #1 WR recruit in the 2018 class. The hype surrounding him, his body frame, and play-making ability was certainly discussed throughout summer camp last year and into the fall. However, Shorter used his redshirt last year and only played in four games in 2018, leaving Penn State fans to anticipate the hype even more.
Shorter’s 2018 Season
The New Jersey native only tallied three catches for 20 yards in 2018. This came despite underwhelming performances from several members of the wide receiver group. But, the plan for the season laid out by James Franklin and his staff was to have Shorter play three regular season games and then play in the bowl game, following several weeks of extra practice. They executed their plan for Shorter as he played against Kent State early on in September, then Wisconsin and Rutgers in November, and eventually Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.
With the plan to develop Justin Shorter in 2018 executed perfectly, it is now time to see just how much he developed entering 2019. The opportunity to showcase his progress is certainly there. There are several notable absences from the 2018 wide receivers group. Juwan Johnson transferred to Oregon. De’Andre Thompkins is fighting for an NFL job. Brandon Polk transferred to James Madison. Also, David Corley is no longer the wide receivers coach. This leaves KJ Hamler as the most proven wide receiver on the team and Gerad Parker as the new wide receivers coach. For Shorter, this leaves plenty of opportunity to earn playing time and leave an impact in his redshirt freshman season.
Projected as a starter by 247Sports, Justin Shorter can be a part of a Nittany Lion receiving corp reminiscent of 2016. They already have their star tight end in Pat Friermuth, who compares to former tight end Mike Gesicki. Hamler is also a dangerous slot receiver much like DaeSean Hamilton was. All Penn State needs is for a big wide receiver like Shorter to make big catches on the outside to create a really dynamic passing attack. He obviously has all the talent in the world. I am certainly excited to see if that talent comes to fruition for Justin Shorter and the Penn State offense in 2019.
My Number 4 Player to Watch will be released tomorrow.
For more preseason coverage, check out these articles by For the Glory of Old State