Shelton named Big Ten player of the week

Michigan State wide receiver earns special teams honor after first career kickoff return for a touchdown on Saturday.

It took until the final week of the regular season, but Michigan State got its first Big Ten player of the week.

Wide receiver R.J. Shelton earned the honor of co-specials teams player of the week for his performance in the Spartans’ 34-10 win against Penn State on Saturday.

The sophomore ran back the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown against the Nittany Lions. It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown of his career.

“R.J. Shelton set the tone for the entire game at a stadium where it is very difficult to gain any momentum,” Spartan special teams coach Mike Tressel said in a statement. “Over the last couple of weeks, he has emerged as a true offensive weapon in the kickoff return game. He has confidence in his blocking and will run right through the smoke.”

He finished the game with a career-high 135 yards on kickoff return yards.

It was the first time a Michigan State player ran back a kickoff since Keshawn Martin did so in 2009 against Minnesota – and just the second time in school history a player ran back an opening kickoff.

“R.J. Shelton is a guy who has made plays for us all year on offense and special teams,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. “He almost broke a couple of returns this season: against Oregon (59 yards) and Rutgers (52 yards). R.J. has an extra gear, and as a former high school running back, he has great vision.

“He also has the ability to catch the ball and get north. R.J. will be an outstanding player for us for the next few years.”

Shelton shared the weekly award with Nebraska kick returner De'Mornay Pierson-El, who ran back a punt for an 80-yard touchdown return. It was Pierson-El's second honor of the season.

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