Running Towards Success

As a young man growing up in Kentucky, Eric Shelton wasn't your typical pre-Madonna running back. As a matter of fact, it would surprise many people who didn't know Eric that through both pee-wee league and middle school, Eric played both offensive and defensive line. Before Eric was a running back, he was a nose tackle. But that's the type of guy Eric is; a natural leader that doesn't mind helping out someone less fortunate and who doesn't need the spotlight to be able to accomplish his dreams.

John Nochta, Eric's high school football coach and now principal of Bryan Station High School, spoke of Eric in this regard, "My wife and I have a special connection to Eric. He was the type of student that all the teachers loved. He was the perfect role model. He never missed a day of school, he was always very polite and respectful and always listened to those around him on how to improve himself. He was always very receptive to new ideas."

According to John, Eric was always the first in the weight room and the last to leave. But his tireless sacrifice to make himself better didn't stop in the weight room. He learned at an early age about giving back to him community. John recalled how Eric would always be the first to go and talk to any non-profit group or middle school group and doesn't have any preconceived notions about whom he'll work with or who he won't. John laughed as he said, "Eric would go and talk to the "sisters of the poor" group if you went and asked him. He is just that type of character. The community (in the Carolinas) will love him."

Not only did Eric achieve success on the football field but also excelled as a track star in both middle school and high school. This is how John first approached Eric about switching from a lineman position to a running back position. John recalls, "I saw Eric compete in the hurdles competition during an 8th grade city track. It was at that time that I approached Eric about becoming a tailback instead of a lineman. Just like everything else, Eric was very receptive to the idea." Eric continued playing on both sides of the ball, spending half the practice with the offense and half the practice with the defense. He also continued competing on the track team all four years of high school and participated in the state finals every year. During his junior year, Eric placed in the top 6 in the state for hurdles and was part of a first place all-state 4x1 relay team.

Eric's attitude in college proved helpful as well. After playing his freshman year at Florida State University, Eric transferred to the University of Louisville to be closer to his family. After sitting out a year under NCAA rules, Eric rushed for 938 yards, with 20 touchdowns on 146 carries. During his career at Louisville, Eric averaged 5.4 yards per carry and had 30 touchdowns in two seasons.

Not only does Eric have the opportunity to fulfill a dream by playing in the National Football League but he has the opportunity of possibly following the footsteps of another known bruising tailback; Stephen Davis. Win lose or draw, Eric Shelton not only brings to the table the ability to score points on the field but the character to carry himself well off the field. With his drive and determination, Panther fans should expect big things from this up and coming rookie.

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