The Jacksonville Jaguars enter the 2013 season with low expectations and little-to-no fanfare after a poor 2012 seasons that saw them go 2-14 and miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
That being the case, most of their games this season will be viewed by many NFL fans as “friends and family” games, which means exactly what it seems to: only friends and family members of the players involved will actually care about the game.
Believe it or not, there is a reason to turn on a Jacksonville game this season. Many don’t know this, but there is a player worth watching on this team, and no, his name is not Maurice Jones-Drew.
His name is Cecil Shorts III.
Shorts became a household name for Jaguars fans last season when he had 55 receptions for 979 yards and 7 touchdowns in 14 games (nine started). In 2013, he could become a household name across the league.
The third-year wide receiver out of Mount Union College enters the season as the team’s No. 1 outside target and seems poised for a breakout year in Northeast Florida.
Despite dropping 9 passes last season, a statistic that gave him the sixth-highest drop rate according to Pro Football Focus, Shorts has shown that he is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with teams’ top cornerbacks and finding success. Even with a questionable quarterback like Blaine Gabbert under center, Shorts has the natural talent to get it done at a high level in the NFL.
It’s all because of the type of player he is.
He’s a man who is always working harder to get better at his craft, even if that means delaying interviews with members of the media so he can get a little extra practice time.
The man weighed in at 195lbs last season, but will enter this year over 200lbs, thanks to his efforts to get tougher to jam at the line.
You can sense he wants to be great just by the way he’s approaching this season.
He came 21 yards shy of becoming just the third player in Jaguars history (Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith) to have 1000 yards receiving in a season, and the first since Smith did it in 2005. Shorts admitted to NFL.com that he was bothered by not reaching that milestone, and has made it a goal of his to hit that mark this season due to prove himself.
His motivation to be great will make him a fun player to watch this season as he goes all out to achieve on-the-field goals while being a catalyst for the resurgence of the Jaguars.
People give the task of listing the players that you would pay over and over again to watch play, and for the most part the usual suspects of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, etc., are on the list.
If his determination is any indication, Shorts may find himself on that list sooner rather than later.