The Freshman Fifteen - Sojourn Shelton

The biggest true freshman contributor on this team, cornerback Sojourn Shelton leads Wisconsin with three interceptions and has shown the best is yet to come. Badger Nation gets to know the freshman cornerback a little better in the return of our popular feature.

MADISON - Getting a chance to start in the first game of his collegiate career, Sojourn Shelton didn't waste any time making a first impression.

In Wisconsin's 45-0 win over Massachusetts to begin the 2013 season, Shelton registered four tackles, a quarterback hurry and his first career interception. Since then, despite a few blips in the road, the true freshman from Fort Lauderdale, FL, has registered 19 tackles (16 solo), a team-best three interceptions and has two pass deflections in starting all seven games.

Combined with enrolling at winter break, Shelton has transformed himself into a 149-pound lanky cornerback to a 172-pound confident defender, as he continues to scratch the surface of his potential.

Returning for a fourth season, Badger Nation does a meet and greet with the newer members of the Wisconsin football team, shedding a light on some of the unknown kids that figure to be important parts of the Badgers' future.

Asking 15 questions, we call this segment the Freshman Fifteen.

What's been the hardest part for you adjusting to college life?

Shelton: Being far from home, especially right now being the holiday season. I already am not going home for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and we don't want to go home for Christmas. I think that's the toughest part just being away from family, getting phone calls and hearing all your little cousins, aunts and uncles, mom, grandma and everybody saying they miss up. With me being a family-oriented person, that's the tough part.

What's been the hardest part adjusting to college football?

Shelton: It's a lot more physical, but I would say the hardest for me is just learning schemes. It's so different. In high school the calls were so simply. It was either ‘Cover 1' or Cover ‘2' or those type of things. Now a lot more things come into the play, like if the tight end does this we have to adjust this way. That was probably the most difficult part about the transition, but the coaches and my teammates have helped me out tremendously to get to the point where I can recognize those things and I can play fast.

Since you arrived here, how have you changed your body to prepare for the college game?

Shelton: The weight difference is the biggest thing, putting on over 20 pounds, being stronger and knowing that I can play with these guys. That's the best part with the confidence they have in me. Being able to move around with the guys and guys having confidence in me has been the biggest part in this transition.

What do you think your strengths are right now where you can help this team and what your biggest areas of weaknesses?

Shelton: I hear all the time from the guys that I bring hype. I bring a kind of swagger to the guys and myself that when they see my jumping around out there, it gives them some juice. I think I need to get bigger and that comes from just playing with the guys. Guys are bigger and I think I can play with them, but I just need to continue to add on weight to be able to play.

How is Madison different than your home town of Fort Lauderdale, FL? What's the biggest difference?

Shelton: It's really beautiful here, to be honest with you. Florida is nice with the beaches and everything, but here you actually get the four seasons. That was something I was excited about in coming here; seeing the leaves change and seeing the snow and it being hot outside. I think that's the biggest difference. It's hot in Florida, but being able to go through the seasons is big.

The people here are a lot nicer, to be honest. In Florida people just kind of go about their day, but here the people are so nice. They see you walking and they say hi and I think that's another big difference.

Do you have any idea what you want to study in college?

Shelton: After I am done playing I want to be a reporter. That's one of the things that I want to do. I like talking about football and other sports, as well. Right now I am just taking general classes as a freshman to get myself going. I came in early and I took some of those same classes. They're challenging, but it helps to get me comfortable and acclimated from high school.

What's your favorite place on the Madison campus?

Shelton: I would have the say the Terrace during the summer. It was pretty beautiful. I had a class back that way and to be able to look out and see the lake was pretty cool for me. There are a lot of places here. I love State Street. I love Washington D.C. It's one of my favorite places to be around and every time I look at the capitol, it just reminds me of being in D.C. The whole area is different for me, especially since where I come from everything is spread out. Everything being so close is cool for me.

What's your least favorite place on campus?

Shelton: I don't have one. I kind of live my life in a box, but I like going out.

What do you enjoy doing most in your free time when you get the chance to kick back and relax?

Shelton: If I am not playing football I am either watching football or playing video games. I like to chill with my teammates and just have conversations. I love playing Xbox live with my friends back home, getting on the microphone and hearing from them is the best part. This week I'll watch some scary movies, have some Oreos and just chill.

Who did you live with this fall? How are those relationships?

Shelton: I am living with Rob Wheelwright. Me and him have gelled together ever since he got here. I think he's a cool person, and I think that's the best part that you can come to college and meet someone you can gel with. You can have fun and joke around, but at the same time you know when to be serious.

With him being a receiver and us going against each other, he can tell me what a receiver does in certain situations. As a corner, I can help him out, especially somebody that is getting playing time and going against good receivers playing at a high level. The best part is helping each other out and being there for one another.

What's the most interesting thing you've learn about Corey?

Shelton: He's loud and he likes the face time a lot. That was my pet peeve during the summer when we had to be here early in the morning. When it was time to sleep he'd be up talking to the misses with the light being on. It's all good. We joke around with it and we know how to have fun.

Who was your big brother and what was the biggest thing you learned from him?

Shelton: I didn't have a big brother and I was surprised I didn't have one because they gave Keelon (Brookins) one. They didn't end up giving me one, but my big brothers are all the DBs. I think the best thing is we are so close and I know I can go to Peniel Jean, Devin Gaulden and the guys who have been here and talk about anything. Above all that, I know I can go talk to Coach Strickland. He's been there every step of the way through recruiting and also when I got here. That's the best part in having a coach we are all close to and can talk to.

Where does your biggest support come from? Family? Friends? Teammates?

Shelton: My family and my mom. My dad is in my life; I just never lived with him. I always lived with my mom. I lived with my dad one year and that's when I was in fourth grade. My mom has never missed a game besides college. She was there from little league to high school. She went to the Northwestern and Tennessee Tech, and she's coming to Iowa and BYU. My biggest support is my family because they have always been there for me.

On my dad's side, my great granddad had, I want to say, 16 kids and their kids are having kids. We're a big family. We go on family vacations and summer trips. I love them. Outside of that are the guys here. We're all supportive and back each other up 100 percent.

What's your parents reaction to you playing college football here, being on your own for the first time and starting your journey at this school?

Shelton: They are always shocked, but they enjoy it. When I see my family and they tell me they are proud of me, it just shows that they are pretty happy.

What's the best part of being a Wisconsin football player and putting on that red and white jersey, especially when you ran out on the field for the first time?

Shelton: It was a great experience. I tell people that you really can't explain it unless you go through it. To be able to come out of the tunnel with the team … you hear about it throughout the week. Guys were telling me I'd have no idea what it's like and then you run out the tunnel with the fans everywhere, the smoke is coming out through the entrance … it's a great feeling. Every time we get to come out that tunnel, for me, it's like ‘wow' because it's something you've always dreamed of and it's something you've accomplished.

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