Penn State’s Justin Shorter, ranked as the top receiver in the 2018 recruiting class, reportedly has entered the NCAA transfer portal, according to Yahoo Sports.
Yahoo’s Pete Thamel reported the news Tuesday. Both 247 Sports and ESPN have also confirmed Shorter’s intended transfer via unnamed sources.
Penn State coach James Franklin acknowledged having a conversation about the issue but added, “I don’t know enough [about it] now.”
A sophomore, Shorter was the nation’s No. 1 receiving prospect in 2018, according to the 247Sports recruiting site. The site ranked Shorter, a New Jersey native, as a 5-star prospect and the nation’s No. 8 player overall behind stars such as Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Penn State teammate Micah Parsons.
Shorter caught 3 passes for 28 yards Saturday against Ohio State, his most productive game since the opener against Idaho. He started five games, missed one full game because of injury and recently was replaced as starter by former walk-on Dan Chisena.
Shorter has dealt with injuries over his two seasons at Penn State. He has 12 receptions for 137 yards this season. Shorter has been targeted 21 times this season, third-highest among receivers, and has dropped two passes.
“We’re very excited about Justin, and he’s done some great things,” Franklin said in October. "But he’s basically missed two games [this season]. … I think that’s really it. He’s got a very bright future."
Shorter is eligible to play for Penn State on Saturday against Rutgers despite reportedly entering the transfer portal. According to the NCAA, athletes who notify their compliance offices that they intend to transfer must be placed into the NCAA database (or portal).
Over the summer, Franklin outlined his new position regarding players who seek to transfer. If they add their names to the transfer portal, Franklin said, they will lose their scholarships at the end of the semester.
Players can return but, as Franklin said, “If you’re looking, we’re looking.”
“Us being very clear and up front about how we handle things, I think, has helped,” Franklin said. “There was too much ambiguity for us. We’re very clear now.”
OTHER PSU NOTES
Clifford a game-time decision: Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, who was injured Saturday, is a “game-time decision” against Rutgers this weekend, Franklin said.
Clifford, a redshirt sophomore, crumpled to the turf in the third quarter against Ohio State. He was eventually able to walk off the field under his own power, but he did not return in the 28-17 loss. Backup quarterback Will Levis took over in his place.
Franklin said Levis will see more reps in practice this week.
“I really could see a situation where Will plays this week,” Franklin said. “Now, how much I’m not sure.”
Clifford has thrown for 2,521 passing yards to go along with 22 touchdowns and six picks so far this season. He’s also rushed for 374 yards and five scores. Levis has 142 passing yards, one TD and one interception — to complement 105 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
The Nittany Lions are considered 40-point favorites against the Scarlet Knights, which PSU will take on at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Beaver Stadium.
Parsons a finalist for Butkus Award: The Butkus Award is presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate linebacker and Parsons is one of six finalists for this year’s honor.
The finalists were announced Monday, and Wisconsin’s Zack Baun, Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks, Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, California’s Evan Weaver and Wyoming’s Logan Wilson also are on the list.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound sophomore is the first Butkus finalist from Penn State since Dan Connor in 2007, and he hopes to be the first Nittany Lion to take home the award since Paul Posluszny in 2005. LaVar Arrington was the Butkus winner in 1999. Shane Conlan (1986), Andre Collins (1989) and Brandon Short (1999) are other Penn State linebackers to earn the nod as a Butkus finalist.
The former Harrisburg High standout leads the Nittany Lions in tackles with 85. In that total are 10 for a loss and two sacks. He ranks seventh in the Big Ten with 7.7 tackles per game and has recorded 10 or more tackles five times this season.
The (Allentown) Morning Call, the Centre Daily Times and the (Greensburg) Tribune-Review contributed to this report.