Tigers' Shelton signs with Tusculum

Friday, February 6, 2015
Marshall County High School senior Cale Shelton (seated, middle) signed a letter of intent to play football at Tusculum College on Wednesday. Also pictured are (front row, left to right) mother Sara Fairbanks, stepfather Mark Fairbanks, (back row, left to right) Marshall County assistant coach Justin Perry, and Marshall County head coach Thomas Osteen. Tribune photo by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

Make the most of your opportunities. Marshall County High School senior Cale Shelton did just that, as he parlayed a strong 2014 campaign into a football scholarship to Tusculum College on Wednesday at the MCHS auditorium.

After seeing very limited playing time his first three years at Marshall County, Shelton got a chance to showcase his skills under new coach Thomas Osteen and became a key member of the Tiger defense at his Star position, which combines the responsibilities of a safety and a linebacker.

Becoming a leader

An All-District selection, Shelton recorded a team high 110 tackles, three sacks, and a fumble recovery during the 2014 season while helping to lead Marshall County to an 8-3 record.

"At first I had my doubts about what I could do, but my teammates told me in the Spring that they needed me and that helped me start to believe in myself. Then I got player of the game in our season opener and that really helped my confidence," said Shelton. "After that I knew I could make plays and that's how I evolved into a leader on the team."

Despite his accomplishments on the gridiron this past season, Shelton admitted to being surprised that Tusculum offered him and seemed grateful that he is receiving an opportunity to play at the college level.

True surprise

"I was very surprised I got a scholarship offer. At the start of the season I never even thought about it," said Shelton. "When I visited Tusculum, I got a chance to see their workouts and realized their coaches are a lot like ours. They put spirituality first and are real good people."

Osteen, meanwhile, enjoyed watching Shelton evolve from an afterthought into one of the more valuable players on Marshall County's team.

"As a coach you love the story of Cale Shelton. He hadn't played a whole lot of football before this season, but he didn't let that define him during his senior year. He led us in tackles and we were able to rely on him each week," said Osteen. "He really became the heart and soul of our defense. I remember our first day at the Keny building I saw the look in his eyes that he wasn't going to let anyone take his spot."

Shelton also takes pride in the fact that his class helped revive the Tigers' football program and laid the foundation for bigger and better things under Osteen after Marshall County endured two straight losing seasons in 2012 and 2013.

"That's one of the biggest things the seniors have talked about. We believe we have some of the best coaches in the state and that we helped turn this around," said Shelton.

Moves ahead

After weighing only 155 pounds this past season, Shelton expects to start his career at Tusculum at safety, but could possibly change positions down the road once he spends time in the Pioneers strength and conditioning program.

"They want to put some weight on me and play me at outside linebacker, but they're probably going to start me out at safety," said Shelton.

Cale has also excelled in the classroom and boasts a 3.6 GPA while taking Honors classes at MCHS.

Whatever position he plays in college, no one will be surprised if Shelton exceeds expectations once again.