CHICAGO -- Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio didn't not shy away from speaking glowingly about sophomore wide receiver R.J. Shelton during Big Ten media day Monday. The Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, native saw action in all 13 games last season, including four starts, and while the speedster didn't put up any gaudy stats on the offensive side of the ball while moving from running back to his current position, he made a solid impact on special teams.
Shelton led the Spartans in kick-return yards (199) and average per return (22.1). Most importantly, he saw invaluable experience in the team's two biggest victories of the season, the Big Ten championship against Ohio State and Rose Bowl against Stanford.
"R.J. is a tremendous, outstanding football player. I think he can play a lot of different positions for us," Dantonio said. "He got on the field as a freshman last year, and I think he made a noticeable difference at times. Extremely competitive. Great person. Hard worker. All of the things, the intangibles that you look to bring forward and take a guy with great ability to the next step, to the next level. And I think he'll be a factor for the next three years, so it's exciting to have him there."
Coming out of high school, Shelton was a three-star recruit and the fourth-ranked player in the state of Wisconsin, according to Rivals.com. His four scholarship offers were only from Big Ten schools -- Michigan State, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin -- and, you would think, an athlete of Shelton's ability could've fit well into the Wisconsin system under former head coach Bret Bielema.
Nevertheless, Dantonio didn't look at the commitment of Shelton as "stealing" from Wisconsin; rather, he simply focused on Shelton's body of work. "I just see it as [getting] a great individual, great football player coming to Michigan State."
Shelton won't face his hometown team until his senior season in 2016, when the Badgers visit East Lansing, Michigan, on Oct. 8. The Badgers haven't won a regular-season game against the Spartans since 2009, winning 38-30 at Camp Randall Stadium.