RECRUITING WIRE - Shelton Danzy 10/29

THE SEASON has in part been about change for <b>Shelton Danzy</b>, WSU verbal commit and defensive back for the No. 8 Rainier Beach Vikings. Danzy talks about his season, playing a different position and how this year will make him a better player at Washington State. Part II of our conversation with the No. 1 ranked defensive back in the state..

On the season, Shelton Danzy has rushed for 682 hashes on but 67 touches. A 10-plus average per carry is the kind of stat that gets a lot of play in the Saturday papers, and deservedly so. But for those who love defense, its his stats on the other side of the ball that point to the hidden story of his season.

Through 7 games this season, Danzy has racked up 67 tackles, (48 solo). He also has 4 deflections, 1 sack and 3 fumble recoveries, one of which he returned 80 yards for a TD. Because of injuries on the depth chart, Danzy's position this year has been safety -- but in a sense, he's been playing as a fourth linebacker. Subsequently, his tackle numbers have gone up.

"We ended up switching our defense and now we're basically running a 4-4. They (initially) moved me to free safety this year -- when I play corner they never throw to my side. They thought if they moved me to free safety, I could get more in the action but they had to move me to strong safety (because of injuries) to help with run support. Our league is pretty strong in the run."

Blitzing from the outside or doing outside-contain has given Danzy an appreciation for what linebackers do in a game. Because the Metro this year features such formidable ground attacks, one recent game featured three pass attempts by the Vikings' opponent. So how integrally is he involved in run support from that SS-slash-OLB spot?

"Extensively," stressed the 5-10 185 pound playmaker. "I've been going both ways since I was a freshman but going both ways and being an outside linebacker is totally different than being back there at corner. I'm pretty winded after the game, but it's a good winded."

Although the change to safety was one of necessity, Danzy feels it will benefit him down the road at Washington State.

"I think its a good thing. I consider myself a good tackler now but at the next level, with me being in the thick of things now, being with the big boys, that gives me a little bit of a taste of what its going to be like in the upcoming years."

A thumb injury caused Danzy to miss a good chunk of time in two games but the thumb is feeling better now. And he just wants to tape it up and hit the gridiron.

"It's not enough to keep me off the field. Its just a situation where you have a nagging injury (that will heal up after the season)...I don't want to hear anything other than I can play right now," Danzy laughed.

The Rainier Beach defense is not near its peak yet according to Danzy, despite pitching three successive shutouts.

"We're playing better, we have a bit more serious attitude after the Liberty loss. I take nothing away from Liberty but I just don't think we played to the best of our abilities, we had 2 touchdowns taken back... That was our wake up call."

This week is the regular season finale for Danzy and Rainier Beach. The winner takes the Sound Division crown in the Metro. Danzy plans on making his last regular season game, against 7-1 West Seattle, a memorable one.

"It's a big game and I always play my best in big games."

ALTHOUGH HE'S NOT PLAYING on the island this season, Danzy remains a cornerback at heart.

"I know I can still play corner -- There's nobody in this league, there's nobody in this state, basically, that can get with me one on one."

Confidence is a necessary ingredient at the corner spot. "You've got to have confidence when you play corner," said coach Bill Doba this past week, referencing Jason David. Doba noted the Washington State great now displays his wares on Sundays and while "Juice" gave up some big plays on occasion, he had a short memory. JD continued to stay confident and aggressive no matter what happened. And sure enough, said Doba, he'd end up making the key interception or key play later in the game more often than not. Confidence and Danzy are synonymous.

"First of all, I think people call it swagger, or whatever, but I just have a certain confidence. I've been playing football since I was six years old so as far as my skill level, there's nothing that I haven't seen. I think also my determination -- I just HATE to lose. It's killing me now seeing the Cougs lose (these last three weeks), its almost unbearable."

Besides his obvious football skills, it's not difficult to see what the Washington State coaches like about Danzy.

"I want to be the type of individual who's out there to give my all, and do what my team needs me to do. If my team needs me to play lineman, if we didn't have one and that was the best chance of winning? Well, then I'd definitely go out and get down on all fours."

"Its short-lived, the little bit of time you get to play...it can be taken away from you in a heartbeat. I've been banged up a bit the last two seasons, just tweaks, ankles and such, and this year has just got me really focused. Focused on being right on my diet, being right on my exercise throughout the season, not just on the preseason."

"And with the commitment Washington State has made to me as far as the scholarship, I just need to produce (in turn) on the field and off. I feel I need to be what they need me to be and then some."



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