The commitment of Sojourn Shelton (Plantation, Fla./Plantation) to Wisconsin on Wednesday morning continues the strong presence the Badgers are gaining in South Florida.
The 5-foot-9, 155-pound Shelton was clearly Wisconsin’s top choice at cornerback and, led by popular assistant Charlie Partridge, the program aggressively pursued the prospect as his commitment to Florida State became shaky. Wisconsin received Shelton’s first official visit and, despite publicly saying he wanted to take more officials before making a decision, Shelton couldn’t shake the feeling he had about Wisconsin.
“When I got there I felt so comfortable and really saw myself as part of the program already,” he said. “And there was little doubt that Wisconsin was where I wanted to end up.
“I wanted to give some other programs a chance, however, and take some more visits. But after talking out things with my head coach I just decided that there was no reason to do that. It was more important to follow my heart and do what was going to make me happy. When guys like Brandon McGee and Ryan Shazier were here they followed their heart and it has worked out.”
While Shelton will not blow away anyone with his size, the 5-foot-9, 155-pound senior is one of the best natural cover cornerbacks in the state. He also believes that Wisconsin’s heralded strength program will help him become a more physical player.
“One thing Wisconsin is known for is putting size on its players,” he said. “If I can get bigger and stronger I believe the sky is the limit for me.
“There are a lot of upperclassmen in the secondary right now and I’m ready to get there in January and compete as it is. But with more size I believe I can develop into one of the best cornerbacks around.”
Shelton gives Wisconsin and Partridge another gem from South Florida. After the program successfully recruited Aaron Henry out of Immokalee (Fla.) in 2007, the Badgers brought in Partridge, a Plantation native himself, in 2008 to help deliver more South Florida prospects. Partridge, who was named assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator in 2011, has been up to the task.
Wisconsin’s roster now has 11 players from Broward or Palm Beach County on the roster, including defensive starters David Gilbert (Oakland Park, Fla./Northeast) and Dezmen Southward (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) and major contributors on offense like running back James White (St. Thomas Aquinas), the 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
“Coach Partridge is one of the most genuine guys you’ll ever meet,” Shelton said. “He is from the Fort Lauderdale area like I am and he understands what life is like down here. He was a Plantation graduate, so I know he’s going to be honest with me and he has been.
“He’s always going to be successful down here because he provides a legitimate opportunity and understands that we are going thousands of miles away from home but going into a comfortable environment that won’t make us miss home.”