With his final season fast approaching, Duke Shelley knows it’s time to go out with a bang.
The senior defensive back is working hard in training camp, hoping to prove himself on another level this season.
Just days into summer practices, he realized that there was a lot he could improve upon. But that didn’t make fall camp any more fun, or any less grueling.
“It’s a long grind — it’s two weeks of practice,” Shelley said. “You go to practice, you go to meetings ... right after meetings, you go to another practice, get food, and then you’re meeting again.”
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Shelley, listed at 5-foot-9 and 178 pounds on the KSU athletics website, is not alone in his assessment. He said he can see the familiar fatigue in his teammates’ eyes.
But the Georgia native, who KSU coach Bill Snyder singled out as having the best spring practices of his career in April, knows what this time of year is about.
“The first couple of days, you see everyone is hype with everything we are doing, getting back into things,” he said. “But then you can see guys kind of fade off, just because we have so much going on out here.”
Having started 30 games over the last three seasons with the Wildcats, Shelley works his hardest at this time of year in hopes of being at his best when the games begin.
He said his strongest traits are his “knowledge and experience.” Competing in the Big 12 since he was a freshman is also an asset, as he knows what to expect when he lines up against the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa State and the rest.
Most of all, he knows that his speed once the ball is in the air will determine his success or failure.
“The biggest thing I have worked on is my transition speed,” Shelley said. “I had a lot of (passs breakups) last year, but this year my goal is to get some more interceptions.”
Shelley had two picks last fall for K-State.
As far as how he thinks this season will go, Shelley has high hopes. He likes the Wildcats’ mix of talent, from returning faces to new ones, and expects them to build on last year’s 8-5 finish (fourth in the Big 12, at 5-4).
A Big 12 championship? Shelley says it’s not out of the realm of possibility for this KSU team.
“The potential and talent to win it all is definitely there, the experience is there — we’ve got guys that have been playing three to four years already,” Shelley said. “The sky’s the limit for this team.
“I think we will be holding up a trophy at the end of this year.”