Why Cecil Shorts Is the Next Victor Cruz

Chris TrapassoAnalyst INovember 25, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 25:  Cecil Shorts III #84 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates following a touchdown during the game against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field on November 25, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Last year he came from the University of Massachusetts. This year, the NFL's out-of-nowhere, ultra-dynamic, big-play threat comes from Mount Union. 

Of course, I'm talking about Victor Cruz and his new counterpart, Cecil Shorts

By now, you know Cruz's story. He went from obscurity to superstar about as rapidly as possible and did so with an abundance of big plays, that frankly, no one saw coming. 

Because Shorts is on a 2-9 Jacksonville Jaguars team that won't make the playoffs and Jacksonville is, well, a smaller media market than New York, the 24-year-old wideout hasn't received the same notoriety as Cruz did a season ago, but he looks to have all the makings of Cruz 2.0. 

In 2011, Cruz finished with an amazing 18.7 yards-per-reception average. He caught 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. 

Shorts, playing most of the season with the clearly incompetent Blaine Gabbert and not much talent around him in the receiving corps, is averaging 20.1 yards per grab with five scores. 

Many thought Shorts' incredibly explosive start was simply an aberration, but he's proven himself nearly every week. 

He's had more than 100 yards receiving three times, and in Week 12's win over the Tennessee Titans—a game in which his stats weren't accumulated in garbage time—he was integral, catching a 59-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne in the third quarter that gave the Jaguars a lead they'd never relinquish. 

Much like Cruz's magical 2011 campaign, Shorts has gotten it done with a variety of big-gainers. 

Cruz had receptions of 74, 68, 72, 99 and 74 yards last year. Shorts has catches of 80, 52, 67, and 59 yards, and the final three have come in the last three games. 

He won't get the media attention and his team isn't as accomplished, but Shorts looks to have the talent and speed to quietly become the next Cruz.