Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - February 7, 2013

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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LUCAS AT LARGE M I K E LUCA S • UWB A DGERS.C OM Brookins, Shelton already hard at work W hile cornerback Sojourn Shelton is trying to put on weight, safety Keelon Brookins is attempting to get out from under the weight of a second ACL surgery in as many years. Both are members of Wisconsin's 2013 recruiting class. But neither Sojourn, nor Brookins, decided to wait. So they graduated from high school early and enrolled for the second semester. Both are confident in what they can accomplish, too, after interesting journeys. Shelton had verbally committed to Florida State and Brookins to Minnesota before each had a change of heart. Most telling was that Shelton and Brookins reaffirmed their commitment to the Badgers after head coach Bret Bielema bolted for Arkansas and most of his assistants left for other destinations. The irony? Shelton de-committed from Florida State because he was seeking more stability after some coaches went to other programs, notably Terrell Buckley, a grad assistant with the Seminoles. "When they made all the changes here (Wisconsin), it was like, 'Wow' ― I just got out from the Florida State situation because of the coaching changes,'' Shelton said. "It hit me blindside. "But throughout the process, I just stayed patient. I didn't jump the gun with anything. I just wanted to wait and see who the new head coach was going to be and give him a shot. "After Coach (Gary) Andersen 12 » VARSITY FEB R UA RY 7, 2013 gave me a call, I honestly felt more comfortable with him than Coach B (Bielema). And I liked Coach B a lot. But I loved talking with Coach Andersen. "It was just the expectations that he had for his players. You want to play for a coach like him, a coach who expects a lot out of you and will push you hard and try to bring the best out of you. "When everything first happened, it was a shock. But this was where I wanted to be.'' Shelton, who hails from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., still looks up to Buckley, the former No. 1 draft choice of the Green Bay Packers. Buckley is now on Terry Bowden's coaching staff at Akron. "The first time I went to the Florida State camp, T-Buck (Buckley) spotted me and took my number and I started communicating with him then,'' said Shelton. "We've had a real close bond. "My body frame kind of resembled his. If I stood next to him, he might be an inch taller. But I have really long arms and he loved my techniques and competitiveness. He's been a big inspiration.'' The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Buckley, a veteran of 14 pro seasons, is much bigger than the 5-9, 157-pound Shelton. But he has already put on eight pounds since arriving on the UW campus. "I see myself going into the fall at 170,'' Shelton said. "I know that I can put the weight on. My grandfather has a big frame. My dad (who lives in Iowa) is short but he also has a big frame.'' Shelton went to the same Florida high school ― Plantation ― that sent linebacker Ryan Shazier to Ohio State. The strength gains made by Shazier, a sophomore, made an impression on Shelton. So much so that Shelton accelerated his timetable for getting to college. "I wanted to get there early,'' he said, "and get acclimated and get used to the college life and get in the weight room.'' It hasn't hurt that Shelton and Brookins are going through the same transition. "We feed off each other,'' said Brookins, a native of St. Paul, Minn. "We help each other out a lot.'' Brookins played in just one game during his junior year at Tartan High School after injuring his left knee. He came back even stronger and faster ― winning the 200 meters in the Class 2A state meet. But then, he did it again. Only this time he blew out the ACL in his right knee as a senior. "It has made me mentally stronger,'' said Brookins. "I absolutely believe I can be a better player.'' Brookins was grateful that the Badgers never flinched on their commitment to him. In return, he never considered going anywhere else after the coaching shuffle in January. "I came to Wisconsin for the school, not just football,'' said Brookins, who heard what he wanted to hear out of Andersen. "He loves his players, he's school first, and he's a winner.''

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