EAST LANSING — With all the focus on true freshman Damion Terry and the Michigan State quarterback situation, it’s another true freshman, R.J. Shelton, that head coach Mark Dantonio believes is ready to make an impact on the field immediately.
After getting moved from running back to wide receiver (played both in high school) at the beginning of camp, Shelton saw action in last Saturday’s victory over South Florida where he had two carries for seven yards. Those carries made Shelton the second true freshman to see the field for the Spartans — first being defensive back Darian Hicks — and caused him to no longer be eligible for a redshirt.
“I was pleased with R.J. Shelton,” Dantonio said. “I thought he performed. He ran a couple plays and ran a reverse, but he didn’t bat an eye. I think he’ll be an outstanding receiver for us.”
Earlier today, the Spartans released their depth chart for Saturday’s game vs. Youngstown State and it had the 5-foot-11, 204-pound freshman listed as the backup to starter Keith Mumphery.
While opportunities at the wide receiver position have opened up for younger guys due to inconsistencies among the receiving corps, the freshman from Beaver Dam, Wis. says that “hard work” is the reason coaches decided to forgo a redshirt season.
“I told this to someone, I was at that point when I was a redshirt, it sucked, but you gotta keep pushing,” Shelton said. “You cant just settle because you need to get better as well, and then when your time does come… you have to seize that moment, and that’s what I keep telling all these younger guys. They know that and they’re working hard, and everyone is working hard. It’s not just are freshman class, it’s everyone just working toward our common goal.”
With freshmen like Terry, linebacker Shane Jones, and running back Delton Williams garnering most of the attention heading into camp, Shelton isn’t worried about how he will be perceived in comparison to his class, he’s focused on where this team will be at the end of the season.
“If you just work and you just consistently get better as a person, and better as a team, and know your role, that (high-profile recruits) doesn’t really mean anything,” Shelton said. “Just helping this team to our common goal, chase it…Big Ten, Rose Bowl, just doing those things to become better as a unit. That’s the ultimate goal.”