Daikiel Shorts Steps Up Big for WVU Offense - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Daikiel Shorts Steps Up Big for WVU Offense

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WVU receivers coach Lonnie Galloway is pleased by Shorts' production so far. WVU receivers coach Lonnie Galloway is pleased by Shorts' production so far.
MORGANTOWN -

Dana Holgorsen has no doubt that the next crop of star players in Big 12 football is waiting, biding its time as camp wraps up to debut when the season begins in less than two weeks.

On his own team, the list of contenders runs deep through veterans and transfers and freshmen, many of whom possess the talent and potential, but not yet the evidence that they can carry the load.

When Holgorsen was asked which of his true freshmen he believes would definitely be on the field this fall rather than taking the year to learn with a redshirt, the first name out of his mouth was Daikiel Shorts. The 6-foot, 200-pound receiver joined the Mountaineers back in January and has steadily created a role for himself, or perhaps even a few roles.

"When Daikiel got here this January and going through the spring conditioning and stuff like that, he never really had a hard time as far as picking up what we were trying to do and that level that we were trying to get him to do it," receivers coach Lonnie Galloway said of the freshman. "It was one of those situations he's a mature kid, he's a smart kid, he likes to compete, not afraid to stick his face in there, so it was a good thing for him to come in January and he's stepping right in and accepting the challenge."

The challenge from the coaching staff this past week was directed toward the players vying for the inside receiver positions. The staff had not seen what it wanted out of the candidates available and though Holgorsen chalked it up to inexperience and injury, he believed there was a better option than those who had given it a shot to that point.

So he turned to Shorts.

An outside receiver since he came to Morgantown, the freshman had proven that his worth on the team was great enough to warrant a shot at a starting spot where no others had stepped up to the plate. He moved inside and the move appears to have paid off.

"We're trying to get guys situated in spots where they're going to be most helpful to help this team win and move the ball. And that was a good move," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "In one day, that kid showed that he's got the mental capacity and everything to line up at that position and do really good things. Obviously, I think that move was a good move."

His grade after just one day was enough to make the move permanent, at least to begin the season, as Shorts provided something the others fighting for the job hadn't. 

"He didn't really have any major busts," Galloway said of Shorts on that first day. "He's a smart kid, he's been here since January, so he understands what we're trying to do offensively. Besides just cleaning up the little technical stuff with him, he did a good job."

Galloway says the move isn't a difficult one to make in this offense because of the way both the inside and outside receiver positions are taught. When they install the offense, both inside and outside receiver work together, so they can see what corrections are being made firsthand and if they were to try the other, it wouldn't be far from their minds as far as what would be expected.

Shorts has yet to be made available to the media, as is the case with every freshman on the team. His high school teammate, running back Wendell Smallwood, is another player Holgorsen said would definitely play this fall and yet another who hasn't been able to speak on his own behalf.

But when the coaches get a chance to talk about Shorts, there is no shortage of praise for what a young player is already achieving at West Virginia.

"He's carrying himself in a [more mature] role. He doesn't act like a freshman," said Galloway. "It's one of those things that he came in here hungry and he wants to play and he understands what we're doing. I have a good group of guys where they all get along and they're all trying to help each other."

And what is the offensive coordinator's assessment of Shorts in his new role after just a few days on the inside?

"Let's put it this way," Dawson said, "I'm more pleased with the inside receivers already." 

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