Spring Q&A: Sojourn Shelton

He's not quite 'Shelton Island' yet, but true freshman cornerback Sojourn Shelton is learning what it takes to play at the Big Ten level from a strength, nutrition and intelligence standpoint.

What has been going through spring practices at Wisconsin been like for you?

Sojourn Shelton: A lot different than high school. It's real competitive, fun and everyone has been working really hard.

Gary Andersen said on signing day that you gained about eight pounds in two weeks. It was a goal for you coming in to build your body. How has that been going for you going through winter conditioning?

Shelton: It's been going really, really well. From the nutrition coach to strength coach (Evan) Simon have been really supportive with me putting on my weight. Actually right now I have gained about 13 pounds total. Just the whole thing is to keep pushing and get up to as much as I can until I get to what the coaches want me to play with. That's the main part: putting on the weight.

Have you experienced anything like that at any level with how important the strength and conditioning aspect is to performing?

Shelton: Actually I haven't, but they are so supportive. They are on top of you all the time with how you are eating and working out. I know what I need to eat for dinner because they are talking to me. It makes things a lot easier and wants you to push harder. The second I hit a wall, they are there and confident. I am happy they are there supporting me.

What is your confidence level now with your game with the added weight? How has your game improved now that you are a little heavier?

Shelton: My confidence level has gone up a lot. My teammates, my coaches and everybody here is so supportive, so of course your confidence goes up and makes you believe that you can get better and progress. Putting on the weight kind of makes me feel stronger inside. I am going to just keep trying to compete and get on the football field.

What has Coach Strickland been like and how have you guys built your relationship?

Shelton: I think it's really strong. We were really strong from the get go from my recruiting process. Now that I am here, he's hard on me in the film room, in the classroom, on the field to make sure that I have everything to go out and compete. On the first day I saw what I needed to work on. I am trying to be his friend and stay on him to progress because I want to be great. I assume our relationship is going to get really, really strong because it's already strong.

When do you have that eye-opening moment that you knew you were part of this program? Was it when you arrived on campus, during winter conditioning or during the first spring practice?

Shelton: I've had so many. The weight room, of course, just lifting with the guys. Chris Borland one day let me break it down at the end of a workout. That felt kind of good, everybody crowded around me. The first practice was crazy. I was so antsy, actually a little nervous, because I am here. They had me on punt return and kick return, so I caught a couple kick returns and I was like ‘wow.' I've had a couple moments where I look back and say I am actually here.

How have you bonded with the other cornerbacks on the roster?

Shelton: Everybody is supportive. The cast around me is strong. Peniel Jean, Darius Hillary, Devin Gaulden, Hugs Etienne, everybody is so supportive and helping me, because the transition from high school to college is a big transition. To have the cast around me makes it easier.

Are you guys a confident group right now?

Shelton: Yes. Yes, I think so. We are all like family, just seeing us laughing and joking around after practice. It's about having fun, but at the same time knowing when it's time to run and come out here to work hard.

What's it been like working against Jared Abbrederis?

Shelton: Me and him go back and forth. That's the person that tests me. I feel like he's the man here. A lot of the receivers are going to get me better, but I want to go against the best. He clowns me, but he's making me better. Talking to Coach Strickland, I am going to be in his face so he can help make me better.

What are the main things you know you need to work on in order to get better?

Shelton: I think I am good at attacking the ball in the air, but I have to get settled in. I think once I get around the guys, get around the field and a get a feel for the practice, everything will just work out. I know I need to get stronger. That's just the nature of playing around big guys in the Big Ten. I think I can improve on everything in my game. I just want to get better.

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