Javonte Sherman Set To Lead Middle Tennessee’s WR Room

Ahead of his third season for the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, there is growing excitement and expectation for wide receiver Javonte Sherman.

Like the movie character that spawned his nickname, Javonte Sherman is back. The redshirt-sophomore wide receiver is turning heads at Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders spring practice, emerging as a potential leader of a depleted WR room.

Javonte Sherman Soaring at Middle Tennessee Spring Practice

“I’ve been very impressed so far with Shermanator, Javonte Sherman,” MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill told reporters after the opening five days of spring camp. “He’s made some really good catches, some competitive catches, has done a really nice job so far.”

As spring camp progresses for Middle Tennessee, there’s an obvious focus. With the loss of multiple pass catchers, the program estimates 82% of last season’s receiving production has departed Murfreesboro. How those missing yards are replaced is the big question mark hanging over Blue Raider football ahead of the 2023 college football season.

The clothes are the distinctive blue of the Middle Tennessee training equipment. The boots are cleats. There’s no obvious sign of a motorcycle outside the Murfreesboro-based Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium, but don’t be fooled — the “Shermanator” is most definitely back.

Catchy nicknames and terrible movie-based puns aside, 2023 has the potential to be a breakout season for Sherman. The Middle Tennessee wide receiver hasn’t had the easiest of transitions to the college level. In 2021, he played just one game — against Florida International — registering no statistics.

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Expected to be a bigger contributor in his redshirt freshman season, Sherman flashed his capability and potential against James Madison, snagging one reception for 16 yards. While he played in five games for the Blue Raiders last fall, Sherman battled injury that limited his playing time and hampered his development. Yet, the early signs from Middle Tennessee spring camp are extremely positive for the redshirt sophomore.

“It’s been really good to see him healthy thus far,” Middle Tennessee offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Mitch Stewart told College Football Network.

“He has always shown flashes since I got here but just couldn’t stay healthy long enough last year to stack those flashes together. He has started to do that this spring — it has been really fun to watch him let it rip and play loose!”

Growing Expectation for Sherman at Middle Tennessee

There’s a growing level of expectation that Sherman could finally be a top-tier contributor for Middle Tennessee in 2023. Sometimes, that expectation can cripple a player, but after playing at a powerhouse high school in Georgia prior to arriving in Murfreesboro, Sherman is used to shouldering the hopes, dreams, and expectations of a community.

“As Valdosta High School, as a football team, the city depends on us. We have to live up to expectations.”

As Sherman was beginning his freshman season with Middle Tennessee, “Titletown High” was just airing on Netflix. The documentary followed the on and off-field trials and tribulations of the Valdosta High School Wildcats football team, where the now-Blue Raiders wide receiver was a standout pass catcher.

The program captured Sherman in his senior season, a campaign where he tallied 21 receptions for 336 yards after logging 1,154 yards and 16 touchdowns as an all-state and all-region junior for the Wildcats.

That junior season production produced a flurry of interest from college football programs, including at the Power Five level. A three-star recruit, as per 247 Sports, Sherman held offers from Tennessee, Washington State, and Illinois, but striving for playing time and the opportunity to play in a high-volume passing offense, he committed to East Carolina in June 2020.

By December, however, Sherman had cooled off from his commitment to the Pirates. It’s clear that the wide receiver is a player that values relationships and all-round development — off and on-field — and when Middle Tennessee hired Brent Stockstill as their wide receiver coach for the 2021 campaign, the Valdosta pass catcher was sold on becoming a Blue Raider.

“MTSU has always been in the picture. They’re willing to put me in the best position on the field and off. Coach Stock promised to take good care of me,” Sherman told Rivals early in 2021.

“I’ve talked to him every day since he was hired. I think very highly of him, with him playing at MTSU and knowing what it’s like to be a student-athlete there. It’ll be a great experience to play for him.”

Sherman Has the Skill Set To Succeed in 2023

Sadly, Sherman’s opportunities to play for Stockstill have been few and far between since his arrival at Middle Tennessee. Blue Raiders fans have had little exposure to a player with the skill set to be a highly productive pass catcher in an offense that ranked 11th in the nation for pass attempts a season ago under Stewart.

While listed at 6’1″, 170 pounds coming out of Valdosta, Middle Tennessee has Sherman at 6’2″, 200 pounds on their 2023 roster. Regardless of measurement, it was clear to see on his high school tape that Sherman possesses the size and length to be a force in contested-catch situations.

The Blue Raiders WR has the speed to take the top off a defense and also adds value after the catch. At Valdosta, he was frequently used in motion and in the quick passing game, with Sherman doing the rest after the catch.

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With clean route breaks, good ball tracking, and impressive body control — all demonstrated on his high school film — Sherman has the tools to be an impactful pass catcher in his third season at the college level. The excitement amongst the coaching staff is real.

“He’s a bigger guy with a lot of reach and also has good speed, so he has quickly become a favorite target for our QBs this spring,” OC Stewart added to his assessment of Sherman from Middle Tennessee’s spring camp. “Looking forward to watching him continue to grow in his role these next few weeks.”

As excitement and expectation grow around the Middle Tennessee wide receiver, it might be less “Hasta la vista” for the Shermanator and more “see you sooner rather than later” as the Blue Raiders kick off their 2023 college football campaign against Alabama on Saturday, September 2.