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MADISON - Gary Andersen remembers that he was so nervous for most of the first quarter in his first junior college game that he had trouble talking.
“At center, that’s not a good thing when you are like that,” he quipped.
So Wisconsin’s head coach could understand if true freshman Sojourn Shelton had some butterflies in his stomach before he plays his first division 1 college football this Saturday against UMass at Camp Randall, especially since Shelton will likely start as the team’s nickel cornerback.
“To say there won’t be jitters and nerves and everything else, that will be there, but he’s a competitor,” said Andersen following Thursday’s practice. “He’s a tough-minded kid. Hopefully the calm happens quickly and he can go out and be the athlete that he is.”
Shelton was one of two true freshmen to enroll at Wisconsin for the spring semester so he could participate in spring practices. But while fellow defensive back Keelon Brookins came to finish his rehabilitation from a torn ACL, Shelton came with the mindset to add weight and lean the playbook.
So when depth issues began popping up at cornerback and Shelton, who had four tackles, one tackle for loss and two pass breakups in the spring, became more comfortable with his coverage techniques and football I.Q., the decision to start him was a no brainer.
“He’s excited about learning (the position),” said Andersen. “That’s half the battle. He’s a pretty smart young man. He’s come a long ways.
“He’s a tough-minded kid. He reacted well this week in practice. He was challenged once again. I hope it all goes well for him. I am not going to look back if he doesn’t play well and say we should have done this. I believe he can do very well.”
The Big Ten on Wednesday approved schools to show unlimited number of replays on in-game stadium videoboards, a move designed to enhance the fan experience. Previously, a school could only show one replay at no less than 75 percent real time speed while the new rules allow for any speed on any replay.
Not only does the decision impact the fans but the coaching staffs, who likely will be able to watch close plays on the gigantic videoboards before deciding whether or not to ask for a review.
Andersen said Wisconsin has a plan in place for discussing whether or not to ask officials for a review, saying tight end coach Jeff Genyk and defensive backs coach Bill Busch will be monitoring the offense and defense, respectively.
“What I don’t want to have happen is six coaches in my ear saying, ‘Oh yeah throw the flag,’” said Andersen. “We got a guy on each side … If we have a chance to look at it, there will only be two mouths making that decision.”
Following his Thursday night radio show, Andersen said he plans to get home and go to the DVR, but it won’t be to watch more film on UMass. With Keegan Andersen and Utah State taking on in-state rival Utah on FoxSports1, Andersen plans on cheering on his former players.
“(I’ll be) sitting in a quiet corner and watch that game,” said Andersen, with a smile. “It should be interesting.”
Andersen said his wife and Chasen Andersen are at the game and will be flying to Madison after to be in town for the Badgers’ season opener.
Extra Points: Andersen said center Dan Voltz (hamstring) had two good days of practice, but UW will give Dallas Lewallen his first career start and use Voltz as needed … In addition to Shelton and Corey Clement, Andersen said Jakarrie Washington and Leon Jacobs will play. Junior college athletes Tanner McEvoy and T.J. Reynard are also expected to play and there is a 70 percent chance receiver Rob Wheelwright will play his first game … Andersen on his defense: 'I'm excited to unleash them. Open up the gates and let them run."