Blacksburg’s Brad Shelton played havoc with opposing offenses this season.
At 6’ 3’’, 265 pounds, he was doubled and sometimes triple-teamed, thus opening free lanes for other defenders.
“I knew based on how I played last year a lot of teams would key on me, but I also knew how to use my strength and size to my advantage. I went into every game thinking no one could block me. I knew I would have to take on double teams practically all night, but it wasn’t about me it was about doing what was best for the team,” Shelton said.
He finished with 97 tackles in 15 games with two tackles for loss, and for his effort, he is this year’s News Messenger All-County/All-City defensive player of the year.
Shelton’s size and surprising speed for a big man caused matchup problems all-season. His coach, Thad Wells, said Brad made it hard for teams to get to the team’s linebackers. “He is a big reason for the success of that group, along with the other defensive lineman as well,” Wells said.
Shelton was one of the main cogs in a defense that was overshadowed by the play of the offense as the Bruins claimed a 3A state title.
“This season was something I could have never dreamed of. When we started off 2-4, I figured we would be in for a long season, by that I didn’t mean 5 extra weeks and a state title. We proved a lot of people wrong and that is what’s so special about our run, no one thought we would be here,” he said.
This year, Shelton stepped up his game and became a leader on and off the field. “Last year I wasn’t very verbal, I kind of stood in the back and listened to the other players and just played to my ability. This year I knew I would have to be a leader for not only our defense but also our team as a whole,” he said.
In a blowout against Christiansburg this season, his coach turned to him and asked if he wanted to score a touchdown. Three seconds later, he was rumbling into the end zone.
“That’s a memory I will never forget. Knowing that in my last game in front of our home crowd was against our cross town rival, it was exciting. Rivalry games are always played with a different feeling. It’s something I can’t explain. When coach told me to go in I honestly thought he was kidding, then once I scored he told me ‘you’ll never forget this night’,” Shelton said.
But of course his biggest memory will be winning the state championship. “The biggest memory I have is once the clock hit zero in the state championship game. It was honestly pretty emotional for me, knowing all the hours and time we have put into our summer workouts, practices, and film sessions had paid off. Not many people can say they are a state champion so it feels pretty special,” he said.
Shelton is a multi-sport athlete, excelling not only in football but also basketball and football. “I can honestly say I love baseball, basketball, and football.
But there is just something about football. You form a bond and a brotherhood with the guys in the locker room. You truly spend about six months out of the year with them. You’re always around them and always making memories that will last a life time,” he said.
Several colleges have talked with Shelton about playing football for them next season. “I’ve mainly been talking to JMU, Richmond, Walking on at Virginia Tech, and some smaller division ll schools. I honestly haven’t decided if i want to continue to play football in college. There’s defiantly an opportunity to play. It’s just a matter of what’s best for me,” he said.