Aug. 15, 2003
by Chris Masters
Quick – name the fastest player in the Notre Dame receiving unit. Omar Jenkins? Not quite. Maurice Stovall? Guess again. Rhema McKnight? Getting warmer. Actually, the true speedster among the Irish pass-catching crew is none other than junior Matt Shelton.
In high school, Shelton used that speed in a game against Whitehaven when he recorded 297 all-purpose yards including 72 receiving, 42 rushing and a 90-yard kickoff return for touchdown, not to mention eight tackles and a forced fumble. He was also a two-time letterwinner as a sprinter for the track and field team and was a standout baserunner for the baseball squad.
“Matt can be a legitimate deep threat for us this year and we have got to find a way to get him involved in the game,” Notre Dame wide receivers coach Trent Miles said.
A native of Collierville, Tenn., Shelton caught the first pass of his collegiate career last season against Rutgers, an 18-yard strike from Pat Dillingham. Shelton also was a key contributor on special teams, serving on the kick return unit and bringing back one kickoff for 12 yards. Irish coaches believe that he will continue to be an asset in both areas, lining up as an additional wideout in passing situations while also joining Stovall, McKnight and Vontez Duff on the kick return squads.
“Matt is not the biggest guy in the world (6-1, 177 pounds),” Miles said. “But if he continues on the path he’s on, both in the weight room and on the field, he’s going to be an important part of the football team this coming season.”