The Florida Gators seemingly got good news on Thursday — but Penn State transfer Justin Shorter decided to reveal his after midnight, when it was already technically Friday, posting a Story to his Instagram account divulging that the NCAA has cleared him to participate in the 2020 football season after submitting a waiver for immediate eligibility.
When the youngsters post the news to their Instagram story, it’s hard for us olds to find it. But yeah, WR Justin Shorter (Penn State-to-Florida transfer) says he got a waiver to play immediately. pic.twitter.com/h36kTzXPp4— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) September 11, 2020
While Shorter’s clearance may or may not be the information Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin was hinting at by posting a GIF of Jonah Hill as a Paul DePodesta stand-in named Peter Brand making a victorious fist while finalizing financial details of the Oakland Athletics’ 2002 trade for Ricardo Rincon in Moneyball — and you thought me not posting for a week while trying to find a sleep schedule that forgot how to do context! — it is undeniably a significant boon to a wide receiver corps that did not stand to have any players quite like Shorter this fall.
Listed at 6’4” and 226 pounds by Penn State on the 2019 Nittany Lions roster, Shorter’s size would have made him the heaviest Florida wideout by almost 10 pounds in 2019, and he’s just an inch shorter than the 6’5” Trevon Grimes. Shorter was also known as a deep threat as a high schooler, when he was the No. 8 prospect and No. 1 wide receiver in the 2018 class and a recruiting coup for James Franklin.
And while that talent did not translate to production in Happy Valley, with Shorter accruing just 157 receiving yards and no touchdowns in two seasons as a Nittany Lion, there’s significant hope regarding his chances to break out in a Florida system that churned out six seasons of 346 or more receiving yards in 2019 — especially because just one of those receivers (Grimes) and tight end Kyle Pitts return from that sextet.
Shorter gaining clearance is also a welcome win for Florida when it comes to the NCAA’s arcane and capricious transfer waiver process, and came just hours after two former Florida linemen — Syracuse’s Chris Bleich and Miami’s Issiah Walker Jr. — learned that they were denied immediate eligibility in 2020. Florida’s record with big-time transfer clearances is actually quite good — of its most prominent non-graduate transfers in under Dan Mullen, only Georgia transfer Brenton Cox was not ultimately granted immediate eligibility, with Grimes, Ole Miss transfer Van Jefferson, Miami transfer Lorenzo Lingard, and now Shorter all getting NCAA waivers to play right away — but the NCAA’s opacity on its process has been a bête noire for Mullen, and oft-mentioned by reporters.
It remains to be seen what Shorter will be able to do for the Gators this fall — or, you know, if Florida will actually play its full abbreviated schedule of SEC-only football games amidst a pandemic that is still spreading in the United States. But the chances are good that Kyle Trask just got another big target to throw to on Saturdays.