Clover Park RB in quandry over visits

Clover Park's <b>Shelton Sampson</b> is done with his season, and the 5-10, 175-pound running back from Tacoma is right in the throes of figuring out just what he wants to do with the next 4 to 5 years of his life. A couple of months ago, it was crystal clear, but the waters have been muddied up a bit since.

"Our season record wasn't what we expected, but we played well," Sampson told about his team's 3-7 mark. Part of it can be explained by the implimentation of a new coach and staff, but Shelton feels that if anything, the new blood helped the team play more disciplined ball. "I think we had a lot more discipline this year," he said. "We had a team that could have done good things, but we didn't have the team order like this year. Our new coach had a good plan and a new coaching staff that really knew what they were doing. It was pretty inspiring. We had position coaches this year, something we've never had before."

And personally, the coaching switch helped Shelton achieve some of his pre-season goals. "I think I played my strongest this year," he said. "This year my main focus was running hard through the hole this year and I feel like I accomplished that. Our coach was a new coach this year, but I told him that I wanted to learn how to run the ball harder through the hole because I know I'm going to have to do that in college. We brought that to our line's attention, and we did a real good job of it. I think I only had two touchdowns off of pitches."

Sampson had 14 scores this year to go along with over 1100 yards rushing. He is also happy that he was able to improve his skills as a pass-catcher. "I was catching more balls from the backfield this year," he said. "Doing more screens, h-options, h-swings, things like that."

And now that the season is over, Shelton is concentrating on his other love, track, but that doesn't mean football is completely over. "Right now I'm training for track and also for the East-West game, the one that is on ESPN," Sampson said, referring to the high school All-Star game slated for January 2nd in San Antonio, Texas. "They've been telling me that I'm going to be playing running back. I don't know anyone else that's going, but I know that there's going to be some good players from the West Coast. I think I'm the only player from Washington going, unless Isaiah Stanback got invited. I'm not sure."

Shelton feels his ceiling for track is beyond limits this year. "I really think I'm going to be able to do a lot more this year," he said. "One thing I always say about every track season is that the way I ended last season is the way I'm going to start this season. Last year I ended pretty strong, and I plan on running even better by the end of the year. And I'm thinking of trying some new events, like the 300 hurdles, but for sure I'm running the 100, 200 and the 110 high hurdles."

His speed goals this year are incredibly lofty. "This year I want to shave off a couple of tenths. Last season I was running a 10.8, but at the end of the season I was running a 10.6 electronic. This year I'd like to shave it from a 10.6 to a 10.3 so that by the time the state track meet comes around I can run a 10.2, hopefully."

It's that type of potential for game-breaking speed that has Washington interested in Shelton, and the local prospect took in the state rivalry game last weekend at Husky Stadium. "I went to the Apple Cup game," he said. "It was pretty fun. It was pretty exciting. I was looking on the news the other day and it was kind of messed up. Wazzu was dancing all over their field and stuff, but U-Dub looked like they took it to heart and just took it to them. Wazzu had a lot of mistakes, but U-Dub took it to their advantage and played real hard."

This game felt different to Shelton than some of the others he's attended, and for obvious reasons. "This one was more action-packed and school-oriented. A lot of people were there because it was a rivalry game. I also got to talk to their running back, Willie Hurst, a lot more in-depth this time. That was pretty cool."

Sampson has spoken to Willie in the past, and it's clear that they have similar thoughts about the game, being a leader and having aspirations at the next level of their game. "Well, it's his senior year and it's my senior year and I was just asking him about going up to the next level," Shelton said. "He was thinking the same way I was thinking. He was just telling me that there's still one game left and that he's going to play as hard as he can. He's really team-oriented right now because the team really needs him, but he just wants to play as hard as he can to reach that next level. And that's the way I was thinking about my season and football, but my season's over now so I'm thinking about college a lot more."

When the inevitable questions come about recruiting, Shelton acknowledges that taking trips isn't necessarily something that's going to help his situation with the school he verbally committed to earlier in the year (UCLA) from their perspective, but he feels that if anything, his appreciation for the school located in Westwood might actually grow as a result of seeing what else is out there. "Recruiting is going pretty well so far," he said. "I talked to Coach Weber before the Apple Cup and he was asking me how I was feeling about things. Me and UCLA are on a pretty good standing right now.

As far as taking trips, I've just been laying low and trying to figure out what I want to do. The more I started thinking about it, if I took those visits would they really take away my scholarship? I started thinking about that, but would it hurt to take those other trips? Even though I'm committed to UCLA, my commitment to them is going to get stronger about that school no matter what, so it really wouldn't hurt anything by going on those visits. So I'm feeling strong about taking the visits. I'm taking the one to U-Dub pretty soon, then the one to UCLA. I'm thinking about going to Notre Dame, but I'm not sure if I'm want to go all the way down there because I've got some schooling I need to do."

Anything else happening with Shelton? "I'm just trying to stay focused and get in as much studying as I can before the December 1st SAT. I just want to take that, and if I pass that I can get ready for college and just settle down so I don't have to worry about anything else until I graduate." Top Stories