On Monday, coach Mark Dantonio said R.J. Shelton could play both receiver and defensive back as a junior next season.
”I think he’s got to play football for us, a lot of plays,” Dantonio said. “He has the ability to play on both sides of the ball.”
Shelton was listed as a backup cornerback on the depth chart for part of the season. He played some snaps at the position against Baylor, one of six players to play cornerback for Michigan State in the 42-41 Cotton Bowl win.
Dantonio said he did an outstanding job defensively, as well as being a playmaker on offense and on specials teams.
”He’s got a good sense about him as a defensive player,” Dantonio said. “But we have to make sure that we don’t overuse a guy and then we take away his productivity on the offensive side of the ball.
”He knows our package, he’s able to go in and play it. How much of that he does will really depend on what other guys do.”
When Shelton began working at cornerback in fall camp, secondary coach Harlon Barnett said he had natural skill at the spot.
He’s a natural at playing defensive back, believe it or not,” Barnett said. “I think he played a little bit of it in high school and he has natural ability on how to tackle, how to cover.”
Michigan State lost both starting cornerbacks from the Cotton Bowl as junior Trae Waynes elected to leave early for the NFL, while Lippett also will graduate.