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Penn State Football: Shorter Already Passes Eye Test

by on July 02, 2018 2:00 PM

For the most part the summer isn't kind to freshmen who are looking to blend in with their new teammates. 

They look young, their bodies not quite as filled out as a fifth year senior's. They don't know all the plays, all the ins and outs of the program. Everything is new, from campus to the routine. So mistakes are frequent and the need for growth both mentally and physically is apparent. You can spot the new guys from a mile away.

Even the once mortal Saquon Barkley looked like the new guy his first summer in State College.

Enter Justin Shorter, a five-star receiver who has since been stripped of that title after coming to campus, now just another freshman in a class of many.

But Shorter is no ordinary freshman. Where others look young, the 6-foot-4, 226 pound talent looks every bit the part Penn State will need this year. Simply put, he's impressive.

"Justin's Justin," Strength coach Dwight Galt said on Saturday. He was the best receiver in the country coming out by some prognosticators. And we didn't have as much time with him — we had one week with him — but that's when it helps to have Juwan Johnson here. Because Justin walks in and he's like a 226, 6-foot-4, 4.4 guy and he turns around and stares at Juwan Johnson, who's 6-foot-5, 230 has got some good stuff happening."

Penn State will need a lot of good stuff to happen this year in order for the Nittany Lions to make it three straight seasons with at least 10-wins. While nothing is set in stone just yet, Shorter seems almost certainly destined to be a part of that quest. He's simply too big, too strong, and too fast to leave by the wayside.

"Justin's a dude who all through the spring was texting me, asking when he could get the playbook and watch film," Quarterback Trace McSorley added. "And physically, when he walks in the room, he doesn't look like an 18-year-old kid."

"You see him open up and run and he's a good looking receiver. He's a kid that I think if he keeps improving he can get a shot this year."

It stands to reason Shorter won't be hauling down 82 passes like DaeSean Hamilton did when he set Penn State's freshman record in 2014. Penn State's offense has become too balanced for that. 

But if you're looking for a freshman who stands out in a crowd, for all the right reasons, there's nothing...short...about the New Jersey product, or his chances to make an impact. And in a post-Barkley and eventually a post-McSorley world, it might Shorter who takes over the household conversation.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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