MADISON - The Badgers brought two members of their 2013 signing class in as early enrollees this winter: defensive backs Keelon Brookins and Sojourn Shelton. Brookins hasn't seen the field this spring as he's rehabbing a torn ACL from last fall, but Shelton has seen plenty of reps with the second team defense as a cornerback.
I met with Shelton for a few minutes after Monday's practice to see how he is adjusting to college life, spring practice and the chilly Wisconsin weather, and his answers are included below.
What's it like to be the new kid on the block?
Sojourn Shelton: It feels great. The coaches around you, they have a good feel for you and they trust you. You're starting to earn the players' respect a little bit, and that's what it's about. There's guys that are seniors out there, and you want to see them walk out good. For me to come in, I'm enjoying it so far.
Was it much of an adjustment going from Florida to Wisconsin?
SS: I've adjusted well. I mean right now it feels pretty good. Before when I first came in it was a little disturbing. I remember when I got off the plane and I was actually inside the terminal and I could [see my breath.] That was kind of an eye-opener for me and I've never been in weather that cold. For the most part now the adjustment is pretty good. I'm ready to just play in it. I hear all the guys talk about how hard it is to play in the cold weather. It's just something that I'm a pretty adventurous kid. I want to see how it is.
How do you think the adjustment has gone on the playing field so far?
SS: I think I've adjusted well so far. The group of DBs I have around me, Peniel Jean, Hugs Etienne, Darius Hillary, they're so supportive knowing how hard it is when you first come in to adjust to the system. Those guys have been helping me out. Coach Ben Strickland is my favorite guy. He's always there for me in my corner. I can ask him any questions I have, football related or not football related. Those set of guys that I see every day and work and grind with, they're there for me and they're making the transition a lot easier.
Do you feel like you've improved since you started practicing?
SS: I really do. I just think that everything is a learning process. As you come in, when I first came in a I had a good first practice and then I kind of fell off a little bit. I just thought to myself, the transition from JV football to varsity football had that feel of just trying to get adjusted, so I think I've made a good adjustment so far and I'm just going keep trying to improve.
What do you think you need to improve on the most as you move into the rest of spring camp?
SS: Me eye progress is something that's gotten me into trouble a couple times. Coach Strickland has been working with me, the DBs as a group have been working with me. It's just a habit I have to break out of from high school. And just getting a little stronger. I've put on a lot of weight- I weighed in the other day at 164, so that's like 15 pounds that I've put on since I got here. I'm trying to break 170 to get a little stronger and a little bigger so these bigger guys like Marquis Mason can't throw me around. I'm pretty excited to see once I am able to put on this extra five pounds, I think my game will improve a lot.
Have you felt the benefits of enrolling early?
SS: From the football aspect, you get in the weight room and you get to be around your teammates and everything. I tell my parents we're all like a bunch of clowns when we get inside the video game room. But just to get the respect of your teammates and get around these guys, and just build a brotherhood.
Like I said, the weight room is a big factor too. Hoping that your body stays healthy, and I think I've adjusted well. School-wise, school is a little harder. But like I said, all these coaches are in your corner, all these players and advisors are in your corner, so you really can't go wrong. It's just a matter of staying on top of your part and using the resources you have here as a football player.
Are you going back to Florida for spring break? Think it'll be nice to get back home for a little bit?
SS: Yes. I'm really excited. I do miss my family, but at the same time I understand that it's a business decision to come here. These guys are my new family and I love them all. I'm just ready to get around my mother. I do miss my little dog. It's just the little things that I miss but they're there for me if I ever need to call and talk about something.
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