Rocky Shelton: "They Could Have the New England Patriots Line--We'll Be Ready to Go"


Duke lost a potential starting linebacker when senior Brandon Hill chose to opt out of the season due to concern over COVID-19. That left the unit young and inexperienced.

Duke started a pair of redshirt sophomores in the opener—Shaka Heyward, who started part-time last season, and Rocky Shelton II, who played sparingly as a freshman.

“Excited,” Shelton said of his first college start. I mean, I’ve played in big games before—in high school—but nothing as big as that. I was still prepared. During the week, I especially prepared looking through the playbook I was ready. I wasn’t afraid or anything like that.”

Shelton had a strong debut, getting four tackles, three solo, as well as a team-high 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

“That was just big time,” he said. “Everybody—when I got home, my phone was just blowing up. My parents were super excited for me. I was excited for myself. It was a very exciting moment.”

Shelton still found things to work on during his film review after the game.

“Definitely,” he said. “Using my hands, getting off blocks, things of that nature. I felt like my hands weren’t as good as they can be versus Notre Dame. So this is the week we correct that.”

While there was concern over Heyward and Shelton’s lack of experience, the pair has been together since arriving at Duke and had faith that they were up for the challenge.

“He was my roommate last year,” Shelton said. “He’s in my class. We’ve always been together, even freshman year, playing scout team together. We have a close bond. We didn’t focus on what outside people said. We were ready to go and excited to play with each other.”

Notre Dame had a large offensive line filled with experienced players. Boston College promises more of the same, but Shelton isn’t worried.

“We definitely like the challenge,” he said. It doesn’t matter who’s up there. They could have the New England Patriots line. We’ll be ready to go.”