Pirates Sign Former Michigan State Standout

By: Oliver Nissi
Pirates Insider
February 21, 2021

WORCESTER, MA. — The Massachusetts Pirates have announced the signing of wide receiver R.J. Shelton, who most recently played in the CFL in 2019. Shelton believes he will use a lot of what he learned in the CFL to his advantage with the Pirates.

“There was a lot of motion on offense in the CFL and that is going to be similar in the IFL ,” Shelton told masspiratesfootball.com. “I believe I can use this experience to my advantage. I’m happy to continue playing the game I love and I’m excited to get on the field.”

Pirates president and general manager Jawad Yatim spoke highly of Shelton and believes his versatility will help him stay on the field.

“Another weapon on offense that we feel can be a real playmaker for us. He showed that type of ability in college and is versatile having been an effective kick returner as well at Michigan State. He seems to love the game and is a high character guy from all accounts, we feel he’s a good addition to our organization and glad to have him aboard.”

Shelton was named Second-Team All-Big Ten in 2016 and All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2015.

Shelton (5’11”, 200 lbs) had two separate stints with the Ottawa Redblacks in the CFL. He first signed with the organization in February 2018 and was eventually released in the middle of the 2018 CFL season in August 2018. He then signed back with Ottawa in January 2019 before being released again in June 2019. In both seasons with the Redblacks, Shelton was signed to the team’s practice squad.

Before he joined the CFL, Shelton gained NFL experience with the Minnesota Vikings when he was signed as an undrafted free agent in April 2017. He went on to play in the preseason for the Vikings, but suffered a foot fracture in the team’s preseason finale. He was placed on injured reserve in September 2017 and later cut in November 2017.

Shelton suited up for the Michigan State Spartans from 2013-2016. In total, he played in 52 games and hauled in 116 receptions, 1,471 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. He also added 4 rushing scores, 1 return touchdown and 1 two-point conversion.

Shelton spent all four years at Michigan State as the team’s starting kick returner. At the end of his senior year, he ranked second all-time in Spartans history in kick returns and kick return yards. Following his collegiate career, Shelton was selected to play in the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He is a native of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email contact@masspiratesfootball.com or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single-game tickets will be available soon at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard