Superstitious Daikiel Shorts Works Toward NFL Dream - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Superstitious Daikiel Shorts Works Toward NFL Dream

Posted:
Daikiel Shorts prepares for WVU's Pro Day and a chance to impress NFL coaches and scouts. (PHOTO: Emily Coyle) Daikiel Shorts prepares for WVU's Pro Day and a chance to impress NFL coaches and scouts. (PHOTO: Emily Coyle)
MORGANTOWN -

Somewhere on the campus of West Virginia University, there sits an apartment that features a direct line to the National Football League. You just have to know where to look.

You also have to make sure you get first pick when you and your roommates decide which bedroom you will each be claiming for the year.

In the spring of 2014, WVU football players Kevin White, Wendell Smallwood and Daikiel Shorts moved into this apartment together.

It was White’s final season with the Mountaineers and he was coming off of a disappointing, injury-plagued debut the prior fall. When the three got together to decide who would get which room in their new apartment, White, perhaps out of seniority over the other two sophomores, chose the basement.

Ten touchdowns, 1,447 yards and a blazing 40-yard dash time later and White had positioned himself among the top prospects for the next level. About a year after he had signed the lease on that apartment by the stadium, he was signing a deal as the No. 7 overall selection of the Chicago Bears in the NFL Draft.

The moment White left for the league, Smallwood took his place in the basement.

Football players (and coaches and fans, to be sure) are dripping with superstition. If they wore a certain t-shirt all week during practice and wound up with a victory on the weekend, you can bet that stinky shirt is staying on for the following week.

“It’s everywhere. Coaches, players, NFL, college, little league – I think it’s superstition,” Smallwood said. “If we win one week, we do the same thing we did next week. If we lose, we start rethinking it. But we don’t change anything when we’re winning.”

In January of 2016, after leading the Big 12 with 1,549 yards, Smallwood declared for the NFL Draft. The Philadelphia Eagles added him to their roster with a fifth round selection.

So last May, it was a no-brainer for Shorts. He had seen two roommates spend the better part of the year in the basement and spend their next season in the National Football League. Shorts offered his upstairs bedroom, the biggest in the house, to a new roommate and took his spot downstairs with the hope that whatever magic worked for White and Smallwood would rub off on him in the 2016 season.

Shorts led the Mountaineers with 63 receptions during his senior season, tallying 894 yards and five scores along the way. Of his 63 catches, 50 were for either first downs or touchdowns. He was as consistent of a target as West Virginia had in its receiving corps.

Of course he was. He stayed in the basement.

“It’s something about just the focus that’s down there. It’s kind of separated from the house,” Smallwood said. “In the basement, you’re by yourself and you can think and I think it kind of helped us focus and we took that theory. We’re really superstitious about things, so we took it and ran with it.”

Now Shorts hopes his living quarters can pay off with a spot in the NFL. Unlike White and Smallwood, Shorts was not rewarded for his final collegiate season with an invitation to the NFL Combine. He will have his chance to show off for league scouts and coaches on Friday when the Mountaineers host their annual Pro Day in Morgantown.

For the past few months, he has been training in Arizona and now back on campus with his old WVU coaches and teammates.

“It’s been a grind, honestly,” Shorts said, “but it’s something I’ll never take for granted. I’m working for a purpose every day, so I take every day and try to be as happy as I can, work as hard as I can and see if I get picked up at the next level.”

Smallwood, having just wrapped up his rookie campaign, believes that Shorts offers a number of attributes that, while perhaps not so flashy, are appealing to coaches at the next level.

“I think he’s just a big receiver. He catches the ball well, he works the middle better than anyone I’ve seen, so I think anywhere he lands, no matter when he goes, he’s going to be a great fit,” Smallwood said of Shorts. “He has the body for it and he has the work ethic and just me actually doing it and knowing how he works, I know he can do it probably even better than me.”

Should Shorts hear his name called in next month’s NFL Draft, or even if he winds up taking the undrafted free agent route to one of 32 league camps, his superstitious side may be thanking the bottom floor of a Morgantown apartment for giving him that extra push toward his dream.

And if he does make it, expect to see many more current and future Mountaineers fighting over that basement bedroom.

  • More SportsMore>>

  • No. 7 Mountaineers Move On

    No. 7 Mountaineers Move On

    Saturday, November 18 2017 8:23 AM EST2017-11-18 13:23:09 GMT
    Rylee Foster and Nikki Izzo-Brown celebrate WVU's win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.Rylee Foster and Nikki Izzo-Brown celebrate WVU's win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

    The No. 7 West Virginia University women's soccer team is moving on to the Sweet 16.

    The No. 7 West Virginia University women's soccer team is moving on to the Sweet 16.

  • 2018 Baseball Schedule Unveiled

    2018 Baseball Schedule Unveiled

    Thursday, November 16 2017 4:31 PM EST2017-11-16 21:31:39 GMT
    The WVU baseball team stands for the national anthem before a 4-2 win over Penn State at PNC Park. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)The WVU baseball team stands for the national anthem before a 4-2 win over Penn State at PNC Park. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)

    Highlighted by 23 home games and 21 games against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2017, West Virginia University Director of Athletics Shane Lyons has announced the 2018 baseball schedule.

    Highlighted by 23 home games and 21 games against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2017, West Virginia University Director of Athletics Shane Lyons has announced the 2018 baseball schedule.

  • WVU Topples Sacramento State

    WVU Topples Sacramento State

    Tuesday, November 14 2017 11:26 PM EST2017-11-15 04:26:00 GMT
    The WVU women's basketball team dominated Sacramento St. 101-47 on Tuesday.The WVU women's basketball team dominated Sacramento St. 101-47 on Tuesday.

    Teana Muldrow and Naomi Davenport each recorded a double-double for the second straight game as the No. 12/15 West Virginia University women’s basketball team dominated Sacramento State 101-47.

    Teana Muldrow and Naomi Davenport each recorded a double-double for the second straight game as the No. 12/15 West Virginia University women’s basketball team dominated Sacramento State 101-47.

  • FootballFootballMore>>

  • WVU Football Players and Assistants Talk Loss to Texas

    WVU Football Players and Assistants Talk Loss to Texas

    West Virginia Football Players and Assistant Coaches meet with the media to discuss WVU's loss to Texas at Mountaineer Field.

    West Virginia Football Players and Assistant Coaches meet with the media to discuss WVU's loss to Texas at Mountaineer Field.

  • WVU Football Coach Holgorsen Talks Texas Loss

    WVU Football Coach Holgorsen Talks Texas Loss

    Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers will host No. 10 Oklahoma State at noon on Oct. 28. (PHOTO: Scott Lituchy)Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers will host No. 10 Oklahoma State at noon on Oct. 28. (PHOTO: Scott Lituchy)
    West Virginia Football Head Coach Dana Holgorsen addresses the media regarding the Mountaineers' loss to Texas in Morgantown.
    West Virginia Football Head Coach Dana Holgorsen addresses the media regarding the Mountaineers' loss to Texas in Morgantown.
  • Game Recap: Texas Spoils WVU Senior Day

    Game Recap: Texas Spoils WVU Senior Day

     Freshman safety Kenny Robinson has made some big plays over the last few weeks. None may be bigger than the play he made Saturday. Robinson’s interception and return for a touchdown brought life back into Milan Puskar Stadium and back to the West Virginia (7-4, 5-3) sideline that had not been present since a gruesome hand injury to quarterback Will Grier earlier in the game.

     Freshman safety Kenny Robinson has made some big plays over the last few weeks. None may be bigger than the play he made Saturday. Robinson’s interception and return for a touchdown brought life back into Milan Puskar Stadium and back to the West Virginia (7-4, 5-3) sideline that had not been present since a gruesome hand injury to quarterback Will Grier earlier in the game.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Game Recap: Miles, WVU dominates Morgan State

    Game Recap: Miles, WVU dominates Morgan State

    Saturday, November 18 2017 10:14 PM EST2017-11-19 03:14:49 GMT

     No. 24 West Virginia (2-1) hadn’t gotten off to the greatest starts in either of its first two games of the regular season. Third time’s the charm, as they say. After trailing 3-2 in the opening minute of the game, the Mountaineers jumped out to nearly a forty-point lead by halftime en route to a 111-48 win over Morgan State (2-2) Saturday evening inside the Coliseum.

     No. 24 West Virginia (2-1) hadn’t gotten off to the greatest starts in either of its first two games of the regular season. Third time’s the charm, as they say. After trailing 3-2 in the opening minute of the game, the Mountaineers jumped out to nearly a forty-point lead by halftime en route to a 111-48 win over Morgan State (2-2) Saturday evening inside the Coliseum.

  • WVU Football Players and Assistants Talk Loss to Texas

    WVU Football Players and Assistants Talk Loss to Texas

    West Virginia Football Players and Assistant Coaches meet with the media to discuss WVU's loss to Texas at Mountaineer Field.

    West Virginia Football Players and Assistant Coaches meet with the media to discuss WVU's loss to Texas at Mountaineer Field.

  • Game Recap: Texas Spoils WVU Senior Day

    Game Recap: Texas Spoils WVU Senior Day

     Freshman safety Kenny Robinson has made some big plays over the last few weeks. None may be bigger than the play he made Saturday. Robinson’s interception and return for a touchdown brought life back into Milan Puskar Stadium and back to the West Virginia (7-4, 5-3) sideline that had not been present since a gruesome hand injury to quarterback Will Grier earlier in the game.

     Freshman safety Kenny Robinson has made some big plays over the last few weeks. None may be bigger than the play he made Saturday. Robinson’s interception and return for a touchdown brought life back into Milan Puskar Stadium and back to the West Virginia (7-4, 5-3) sideline that had not been present since a gruesome hand injury to quarterback Will Grier earlier in the game.

  • WVU Football Coach Holgorsen Talks Texas Loss

    WVU Football Coach Holgorsen Talks Texas Loss

    Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers will host No. 10 Oklahoma State at noon on Oct. 28. (PHOTO: Scott Lituchy)Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers will host No. 10 Oklahoma State at noon on Oct. 28. (PHOTO: Scott Lituchy)
    West Virginia Football Head Coach Dana Holgorsen addresses the media regarding the Mountaineers' loss to Texas in Morgantown.
    West Virginia Football Head Coach Dana Holgorsen addresses the media regarding the Mountaineers' loss to Texas in Morgantown.
  • Game Preview: WVU Hoops host Morgan State

    Game Preview: WVU Hoops host Morgan State

    WVU senior guard Jevon Carter and the Mountaineers are picked to finish 2nd in the Big 12 Preseason Poll. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)WVU senior guard Jevon Carter and the Mountaineers are picked to finish 2nd in the Big 12 Preseason Poll. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)
    By Ryan Decker No. 24 West Virginia (1-1) plays its first of two games heading into Thanksgiving break Saturday evening against Morgan State (2-1). The Mountaineers most recent outing – a 34-point win over American on Wednesday – was much more successful than their first of the year. Morgan State, winner of two games in a row, has also played better as of late and is coming off a 12-point win Thursday. Five WVU players are averaging double-figure scoring totals this ...
    By Ryan Decker No. 24 West Virginia (1-1) plays its first of two games heading into Thanksgiving break Saturday evening against Morgan State (2-1). The Mountaineers most recent outing – a 34-point win over American on Wednesday – was much more successful than their first of the year. Morgan State, winner of two games in a row, has also played better as of late and is coming off a 12-point win Thursday. Five WVU players are averaging double-figure scoring totals this ...
  • Dana Holgorsen's Postgame News Conference LIVE on WVi

    Dana Holgorsen's Postgame News Conference LIVE on WVi

    WVi will be streaming Dana Holgorsen's Postgame News Conferences LIVE following each home game throughout the season. It all begins with the opener against Marshall.
  • No. 7 Mountaineers Move On

    No. 7 Mountaineers Move On

    Saturday, November 18 2017 8:23 AM EST2017-11-18 13:23:09 GMT
    Rylee Foster and Nikki Izzo-Brown celebrate WVU's win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.Rylee Foster and Nikki Izzo-Brown celebrate WVU's win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

    The No. 7 West Virginia University women's soccer team is moving on to the Sweet 16.

    The No. 7 West Virginia University women's soccer team is moving on to the Sweet 16.

  • 2017-18 WVU Men’s Basketball Schedule

    2017-18 WVU Men’s Basketball Schedule

    Bob Huggins looks on as the Mountaineers practice at the SAP Center in San Jose. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)Bob Huggins looks on as the Mountaineers practice at the SAP Center in San Jose. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (August 31, 2017) – West Virginia University Director of Athletics Shane Lyons and the Big 12 Conference have announced the 2017-18 men’s basketball schedule. 

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (August 31, 2017) – West Virginia University Director of Athletics Shane Lyons and the Big 12 Conference have announced the 2017-18 men’s basketball schedule.