Students at Auburn High School got a heckuva big treat last Friday — University of Washington senior gridiron standout Danny Shelton, a 2011 Auburn graduate.
Speaking to a packed gymnasium, Shelton – a 6-foot-2, 332-pound defensive lineman, who is projected to be snatched up in the first-round of the 2015 NFL Draft – thanked God, his family and faculty for helping him realize his football and academic dreams.
Earlier this month, the College Sports Information Directors of America named Shelton to its Academic All-American first team, making him the only Pac-12 player to make the 24 player team and the first Husky to be named to the exclusive group since Ed Cunningham earned the honor way back in 1991.
In the classroom this season, Shelton earned a 3.54 grade-point average in his major, anthropology. He was an advisor in a freshman-orientation class for the fall term and spent the past two summers in French Polynesia, where he studied colonization and hosted football clinics.
The CoSIDA Academic All-America nod is just one of a handful of honors Shelton has garnered this season and throughout his career.
His selection to the All-Pac-12 Academic First Team marks the third award of its kind for Shelton this season.
Shelton was also named to the USA Today First Team All-American team (along with teammates Shaq Thompson and Hau’oli Kikaha), and is the 56th Husky to earn first-team recognition.
Not only was he picked for the SB Nation First Team All-American team, he also was chosen to the Walter Camp and CBS Sports All-American Second Teams and the All-Pac-12 First Team.
Shelton was also a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, which is given every season to the nation’s top defensive player.
Shelton finished second among Huskies this season with 16.5 tackles for loss and third with nine sacks.
And he is tied for the NCAA lead in fumble recoveries with four.
On Friday, Shelton brought along to the gym fellow Huskies Cory Fuavai, a UW sophomore offensive lineman and an Auburn High School graduate, Jarett Finau, James Atoe and Siosifa Tufunga. Trojan Head Coach Gordon Elliott introduced him.
“Most players make the choice to just get by and do just enough to let them play football or get to the NFL,” Elliott said. “Danny made the other choice.”
The Huskies (8-5) wrap up the season with a trip to Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 2 against the Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-6) in the TicketCity Cactus Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium. Kickoff is at 7:15 p.m. (ESPN).