February 12, 2012

R.J. Shelton: The next Spartan?

Running back recruiting is imperative for Michigan State this year and the Spartan staff is being very aggressive about going after the players they have at the top of their recruiting board. Last week Mark Dantonio offered a scholarship to 5-foot-11, 185-pound R.J. Shelton of Beaver Dam High School in Wisconsin. It is very possible he will be the next member of the Spartan recruiting class of 2013.

Shelton has had an outstanding junior season for Beaver Dam High School. He rushed for 2048-yards on 217-carries and scored 34 touchdowns. That season followed a sophomore year in which he rushed for 1296-yards on 189-carries and scored 128 touchdowns. Shelton is viewed as the top running back in Wisconsin for the class of 2012.

Shelton comes from a very athletic family, his father played football for the Badgers and his mother played basketball for them. The strong family ties to Wisconsin had many thinking that the Badgers would be the team to beat, but Michigan State has made Shelton a top priority for the class and last Friday Mark Dantonio extended a scholarship to him.

Shelton had a lot of positives to say about the Spartan program when we asked him about it.

“I love everything they do at Michigan State,” he stated. “I really want to be a part of the program. I was there this past fall for the Indiana game. The coaches there are great and it just feels like home.”

One of the positive aspects for Michigan State in the recruitment of Shelton is the fact that his primary recruiter at Michigan State is Running Back Coach Brad Salem. Coach Salem has long had his eye on Shelton and was instrumental on making sure the Spartans offered Shelton a scholarship.

Shelton’s comments about Michigan State University make it seem like a commitment to the Green and White is imminent. We asked him if that was indeed the case.

“Yes, I plan on committing when I go down there for their Junior Day on February 25th,” Shelton said.

A commitment from Shelton would give the Spartans a speed back that can take it the distance. Shelton has been clocked as fast as 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash. As evidenced by his highlight film above, when he breaks into the open field it is 6-points.

With strong ties to the Badger program some may be surprised by the fact that Wisconsin did not pull the trigger first. What the Badger staff is thinking is unknown, but what is known is that Wisconsin has signed the top running backs in the Badger State the past two seasons in Melvin Gordon[db] and [db]Vonte Jackson. With Monte Ball set to return for his senior year, James White will certainly be in the mix for two more years.

It is very possible that Michigan State will need a running back in the class of 2013 to play early on in their career. The Spartans did not sign a running back in 2011 and only signed 1 in 2012. In addition, some have speculated that LeVeon Bell will be a serious NFL prospect after next fall. The Spartans could become very thin at RB with the graduation of Larry Caper and the potential departure of Bell.

In addition to football, Shelton is also a standout basketball player. He is having an outstanding season for Beaver Dam High School (15-4) and if he wanted to focus on basketball he certainly would have received some scholarship interest.

SpartanMag.com will continue to follow the recruitment of Shelton in the next two weeks. A commitment from Shelton may be a bit anti-climactic from a media standpoint, but you can be sure that the Michigan State staff will be extremely excited to hear the news in person.

SpartanMag.com’s Take: Shelton is just the type of player the Spartans need to add to this class. He can team with fellow 2013 commitment Gerald Holmes to be a “Thunder and Lightning” type of combination the way Javon Ringer and Jehuu Caulcrick were in 2007. That year the bruising Caulcrick pounded out 21 touchdowns while Ringer shredded defenses for over 1400-yards. Having a dominant rushing attack to go along with the Spartan attacking defense is exactly what Mark Dantonio wants in East Lansing.

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