Wise Guy Checking Out Penn State

Cornerback Joe Shelton set to visit the Nittany Lions early next week. It will be his first trip to Happy Valley.

Joe Shelton cried as he walked off the M&T Bank Stadium turf on the first day of December.

The junior cornerback from Wise High in Upper Marlboro, Md., could not control his emotions after he picked off a pass at the goal line seal a 12-7 win over Quince Orchard. It also capped a 14-0 season and the Pumas' first 4A state title.

The memories of that cold winter day are behind Shelton, though. He's now focusing on recruiting, a process that has drawn interest from the likes of James Madison, North Carolina State, Old Dominion, Towson and Boston College. But one new potential suitor is showing interest, and Shelton will head north to check out the program soon.

“I'll be visiting Penn State next Monday,” Shelton said. “They've been talking to my coach about me, and hopefully when I go up there, I get to talk to them, too.”

The Nittany Lions, who kick off spring practice Monday, just recently began showing interest in Shelton. It coincided with the offer the staff sent to teammate and safety Marcus Allen, who will also visit Monday.

The two prospects share a relationship that extends back to their days playing youth football on dirt fields.

“We met through Little League football, but we used to play against each other,” Shelton said. “His father told me he wanted to work out and train me with weight, and we've been cool ever since. We decided in ninth grade -- I always played safety and him corner -- that we wanted to go to the same school. If that comes true, it would be great.”

Shelton will focus on more than football during his visit, though.

“I want to learn how the campus is, talk to the coaches, and see how they treat the students there,” Shelton said. “But my first priority is academics, because I need a back-up plan if I would get hurt or something comes up with football. I've never been there, but I trained with [former Lion] Stephon Morris and his dad [Roman], and I know [2013 early enrollee] Jordan Smith, too. I've heard a lot about the program, and that they love it.”

Shelton recorded 40 tackles, a team-best five interceptions, a fumble recovery and a sack in 2012.

“I feel like coverage is my best skill, whether it be pressing off the line or playing off,” Shelton said. “That is what I excel in, and while I need to work on my tackling and stuff like that, I can cover anybody. I have all my technique down, and Coach Roman [Morris] really helped me.”

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