By DENNIS SILVA II | firstname.lastname@example.org
As soon as Army offered Taylor High’s Casey Shorter on June 5, it didn’t take long for the power running back to commit himself to the black and gold.
The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder had done his research on Army ever since the Black Knights had contacted him on February 4. Then came the official full-ride offer. Fourteen days later, on June 19, Shorter declared the program his future home.
“I know it is an opportunity of a lifetime,” Shorter said. “One of the top academic schools, a guaranteed job when graduating, and I know they have an offense that I fit into perfectly.”
Shorter is a bulldog of a back, a constant in the Mustangs’ vaunted backfield since his sophomore season. In 2018, he rushed for 938 yards and seven touchdowns as part of a three-man platoon. Last season, he rushed for 1,369 yards and 15 touchdowns as the primary ballcarrier, helping lead Taylor to the Class 6A state semifinals.
Army intends to use Shorter as a fullback. He is ideal for its downhill running style through his penchant for getting yards after contact. Shorter said other Division I schools showed interest via emails, texts and direct tweets. He had a couple of conversations with Air Force.
“But that did not matter to me once Army offered,” Shorter said. “I truly believed it to be best for me.”
Initially, Shorter was dismayed with his recruiting, particularly when the novel coronavirus forced the cancellation of spring football.
“Not having a spring season was probably a big reason I did not have more offers,” Shorter said. “(Taylor head coach) Coach (Chad) Simmons and (Taylor defensive coordinator) Coach (J) Jensen spoke with several college coaches that said they were coming to see me this spring. It was a little frustrating to not have any offers, and with the uncertainty of the times, I wasn’t sure if I would find a school that I really wanted to go to.”
Alas, he did. Now his focus is on leaving high school as a state champion.
“We expect to make another run through the playoffs, and our goal is to play for the championship,” Shorter said. “I will focus on helping Taylor win any way that I can. As far as getting ready for the Army and football at the next level, I will continue to become stronger and faster so that I will be ready when it is time to head to West Point.”
Shorter spoke more about his decision and what lies ahead for his senior campaign.
Q: What did Army coaches say they had in mind for you? How did they say they could see you developing for them?
A: “Coach Mike Viti is the fullbacks coach at Army, and a former Army fullback as well. They told me I wouldn’t have to change much about the way I run the ball but could see me putting on more weight and maintaining speed.”
Q: I’ve seen you working out religiously this offseason. How do you feel that you’re better or improved since the end of your junior season?
A: “I have worked a lot on footwork, but been also focusing on flexibility of hips, speed and change of direction. I feel like all of these things have improved.”
Q: At what age did you begin playing football? What was it about the game that you fell in love with?
A: “I started playing football in fourth grade. I had several coaches see me play basketball in third grade that told me I should be playing football because of my speed and aggressiveness. I think, more than anything, I loved just being a part of a team. I definitely loved the contact of the game. My first two years, I played with (current Taylor teammate) Trevor Woods. His dad was one of the coaches on our Katy Youth Football team. He and the other coaches really took the time to teach me the right fundamentals. Then it continued in sixth grade when I played with (current Taylor teammates) Hayden (Conner) and Bryce (Foster). Steve Conner coached us to the FBU national championship.”
Q: What was it like growing up? Who are your inspirations?
A: “I have lived in Katy my whole life. I always grew up around sports and living in a good environment. Growing up, my coaches have always been hard on me, but it has pushed me to be the man I am today. My parents are my inspirations. They have pushed me and taught me values to help me be the best person I can.”
Q: You guys had a remarkable season last year at Taylor. Now that you’ve had some time to reflect, what main things do you take away from last season?
A: “Last year, we really came together as a team. There was no arguing or jealousy between us. We all wanted to see each other succeed. I believe that will carry over into this year.”
Q: How do you feel you all can build on last season and take that next step to compete for a state championship?
A: “We lost some great players and leaders from last year, but we have guys that are ready to step up and fill those spots. It helped a lot that we were still playing in December. A lot of the younger guys that will contribute this year got time during the playoff wins. I think we have the talent and work ethic to go even farther than last year. If we all stay healthy, we should make another run at it.”