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Grimes, Shorter a go-to combination for Gators

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Florida receiver Trevon Grimes (8) catches a pass Saturday against Arkansas at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Trevon Grimes and Justin Shorter hit it off right away, from the very first time they met before an offseason workout last summer.

 “The first workout we had together, Shorter came up to me and we started talking,” Grimes said. “We started talking about different routes, and how we run different things and I started asking him tips and he started asking me because he is a very big receiver. We started just talking and talking and ever since then we became close friends and we work out together.”

 This instant bond should not be surprising considering all the things the two have in common. Both were five-star recruits coming out of high school. Both transferred to Florida from elite Big Ten programs (Ohio State and Penn State). Both are big wide receivers with similar styles and skill sets.

 The last two games offer a perfect example of just how similar the two are.

 A week after the 6-foot-4, 218-pound Grimes made a leaping, falling-backward touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone against Georgia, the 6-5, 225-pound Shorter had what looked like the same exact TD catch against Arkansas.

 And Grimes was so happy about his friend’s acrobatic TD that he rushed onto the field to celebrate with him without his helmet on, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

 “I ran up to him and I’m just like, ‘Yo, that’s an amazing catch,’ ” Grimes said. “I didn't have my helmet on, but the first thing I thought was to run down there and congratulate him, because I know how exciting it was and how good of a catch it was.

 “He made a phenomenal catch. It’s kind of like the catch I made at Georgia, literally identical.”

 The fact Grimes and Shorter became instant friends is understandable. That they have grown only closer over the course of the season is a tribute to the unselfishness of both.

 Usually, when you have two former five-star recruits sharing the same position, the possibility is there for friction and maybe some jealousy. But sharing playing time has become the Florida way under Dan Mullen, and Grimes and Shorter have bought in.

 “A lot of players come into college and they think they are going to get all these targets and be the top player,” Grimes said. “And then when you get to college, you realize that it’s not like that at all. You have to be able to share and be happy for your teammates.

 “I play with Justin Shorter, who is another phenomenal receiver, and we play at the same position, and I’m as excited for him when he scores. I actually got a personal foul this past game for running off the sideline with my helmet off just to celebrate with him. That just goes to show the love we have for each other regardless if he plays my position or not. We want to see each other win. It’s an honor to play with teammates like that."

 Shorter feels the same way about Grimes. Even though they’ve only known each other for a few months, Shorter has known about Grimes since he was in middle school and Grimes was a big-time high school player at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.

 Now, not only is he teammates with Grimes, he’s also playing the same position with him.

 “It’s been great every single day of practice, because I was looking up to him since I was literally in eighth grade,” Shorter said. “I remember watching YouTube videos on him, this tall dude, lanky, kind of like me. So, I just watched him, and I was able to follow him. It’s just crazy now to say that he’s one of my closest friends. So it’s just really, really cool.

 “When I got here, I was like, ‘Wow, Trevon Grimes is actually at my position, he’s playing with me.’ So, I’ve just been trying to learn every single detail from him there so I can just better myself, and it’s been paying off.”

 There has been harmony at their outside wide receiver position. And production. Plenty of production.

 It’s been a go-to position for quarterback Kyle Trask. Grimes and Shorter have combined for 30 receptions for 404 yards and eight touchdowns. The two have come on strong during the Gators’ current three-game winning streak, combining for seven TD receptions.

 After a relatively quiet start this season, Shorter has emerged, catching a TD pass in each of the last three games.

 “He has unbelievable physical talents and gifts,” offensive coordinator Brian Johnson said. “He’s got great range, a great catch radius as well. He’s done a great job of making plays. When he’s in he takes advantage of his opportunity.

 “That’s the beauty of our offense. He and Tre Grimes play the same position. When you look at it in totality of the production that that position is producing … individually it might not look great, but if you combine it (it does). Just like our running backs last week, if you combine those guys 10 catches for 212 yards, if it was one guy doing all that it would be unbelievable. The unselfishness that they play with and the unselfishness that Coach Mullen has instilled in the program is something that is very, very special.” 

 Just like the friendship between the two former five-star recruits who are sharing the same position.

 “That's my brother,” Shorter said of Grimes. “He's just an all-around good guy and he's a great guy to look up to. I just can't wait to see him do great things.”

Saturday

Who: No. 5 Florida (5-1) vs. Vanderbilt (0-6)

When: 12 p.m. 

Where: Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.

TV: ESPN

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

Florida receiver Justin Shorter runs for a touchdown against Georgia at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville on Nov. 7.