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WR Justin Shorter earns All-America accolade, sets his sights higher
New Jersey standout Justin Shorter warrants nationwide notice for his recent performances. The 6-foot-4, 216-pound prospect placed himself in the conversation for 5-star status with dominant efforts at The Opening’s New Jersey regional (April 30) and Under Armour’s All-America camp series (May 21).
Shorter, who pledged to Penn State on Aug. 6 last year, overwhelms opponents with a rare blend of physicality and quickness. His length and body control, augmented by an aggressive approach to contested balls, create a potential superstar package in the passing game.
Quarterback Devin Leary, an Elite 11 finalist and North Carolina State commit, enjoyed the opportunity to target Shorter at both recent camps. He expects Penn State passers will quickly identify him as a go-to weapon.
“Justin is the type of receiver who can get open no matter what,” Leary said. “It seems as if wherever you throw the ball – even if it’s behind him or a little above his head – he’s going to come down with it. As a quarterback, a guy like him makes your job 10 times easier.”
Shorter gains separation off the snap with precise footwork and isn’t intimidated by press coverage. He’s added approximately 20 pounds since his junior season at South Brunswick High School, making him better equipped to gain initial separation by jolting a defensive back at the line.
“Last year, when I was still learning the game, I would try to be shifty and run by [defensive backs],” Shorter said. “That really wasn’t working, so I’ve focused on training to get my hands on the DB and use my size to make sure they won’t press me.”
Once he reaches open field, few receivers in the 2018 recruiting class cause more issues for defenders. Despite adding substantial mass to his frame, Shorter doesn’t sacrifice speed.
He earned “fastest man” honors at The Opening regional, finishing the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds.
— The Opening (@TheOpening) April 30, 2017
Excellent coordination and sudden, compact route-running technique make him a deceptive deep ball threat, and he can track down long tosses by switching into another gear.
“He’s big and quick off the line, which is a great combination,” Hawkins said. “His acceleration speed is crazy. Justin gets after it, and just keeps getting quicker as he goes deeper in routes. It was cool going against him because a player like him makes you better.”
Folks across the country are taking notice of Shorter’s constant development.
His strides this offseason resulted in a recent 119-spot climb in 247Sports’ 2018 composite rankings. Shorter is now listed No. 46 overall nationally and No. 9 among receiver recruits.
At this stage, 26 high school juniors are rated 5-star prospects in composite rankings. It wouldn’t surprise to see Shorter add to this mix by the end of his senior season, if not earlier.
Humble and soft-spoken, his effort has developed a larger spotlight, and that’s something he embraces. Shorter strives to build on a burgeoning reputation with every drill.
“Once I saw that jump in the rankings, I just thought now it’s time to work harder and get to that first spot [in receiver rankings],” he said. “Getting moved up was great but I’m always trying to take that next step. I’m working nonstop every day.”
Shorter has a few showcase opportunities to further demonstrate his case for the No. 1 label.
He received an invitation to the Under Armour All-America Game, held in Orlando, Fla., following camp on Sunday. Shorter already earned an opportunity to compete in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which takes place in San Antonio, Texas.
Blessed to recieve an invitation to the U.S. Army All-American Game‼️🙏🏾💯 pic.twitter.com/NwMoAfG5ka
— Justin Shorter (@JustinShorter15) May 3, 2017
Before he caps off his prep career in one of those games, Shorter is headed to The Opening finals June 28-July 3.
The annual event, hosted in Beaverton, Ore., at Nike’s world headquarters, will also feature 5-star Nittany Lions running back commit Ricky Slade. They will be joined by 5-star Penn State quarterback pledge Justin Fields if he advances beyond the Elite 11 finals, which take place June 2-4 in Los Angeles.
There is no better setting to validate escalating hype, as Shorter will face elite defensive prospects each rep. It’s a perfect opportunity to capture that fifth star and perhaps turn enough heads to challenge Louisiana WR Terrace Marshall for the top spot in composite receiver rankings.
Now exploring possible early enrollment at Penn State, Shorter is sure to arrive in Happy Valley surrounded by elevated expectations. Many, including Leary, believe he is primed to provide an immediate offensive boost.
“I think he’s going to be a huge factor for Penn State, probably as soon as he gets to campus,” Leary said. “Justin is a big addition for them and he’ll perform really well at the college level.”
Shorter recorded 45 receptions for 718 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2016, per MaxPreps. The South Brunswick staff will attempt to maximize his impact as a senior, according to Shorter, and he is prepared to play at receiver, running back, quarterback and safety.
Simply put, he's impressive.
I put together these highlights.
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) May 21, 2017
Penn State named to ‘top’ lists by three 4-star defensive tackles
Nittany Lions defensive line coach Sean Spencer welcomed multiple top targets to campus Saturday, pushing Penn State into desirable position for New Jersey DE Jayson Oweh and Maryland DT PJ Mustipher. More good news continued to surface early this week regarding the program’s efforts in the trenches.
A trio of blue-chip linemen announced their respective list of favorite college options during a 48-hour span between Sunday and Tuesday. Keondre Coburn, Aeneas Hawkins and Trevor Trout each included the Nittany Lions in those collections.
God is faithful. 🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/iCEsTOFAMU
— Aeneas Hawkins (@King_Hawk92) May 21, 2017
Hawkins trimmed things down to seven universities, while Coburn (16 schools) and Trout (15 schools) opted for much larger groups of contenders. Penn State doesn’t claim a single crystal ball prediction for any of these 4-star prospects but at least some mutual interest exits.
Below is a breakdown of the linemen and how they are viewed in 247Sports’ composite rankings.
- Keondre Coburn, Westfield High (Houston), 6-1, 329 pounds — No. 8 defensive tackle; No. 93 overall
- Aeneas Hawkins, Archbishop Moeller High (Cincinnati), 6-3, 265 pounds — No. 23 defensive tackle; No. 268 overall
- Trevor Trout, Chaminade Prep (St. Louis), 6-3, 315 pounds — No. 15 defensive tackle; No. 156 overall
Other Penn State targets at the position who should be on your radar include Mustipher, Tyler Friday of New Jersey and Matthew Jones of New York.