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Late-bloomer Dominic Shelley to play football at Winona

Somerset High School senior Dominic Shelley is shown signing his letter of intent to attend Winona State University and play football for the Warriors. He is seated with his parents, Chris and Duane. Standing is Somerset football coach Bruce Larson. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

Dominic Shelley is a late bloomer.

And that means his best football is still ahead of him. Several college football teams showed interest in the Somerset High School senior following last fall's season. Shelley decided last week that he would continue his football career at Winona State University in Winona, Minn. Shelley signed a national letter of intent last week.

Shelley emerged as one of the top offensive linemen in the area during the 2017 season as Somerset's left tackle. Now at 6-6 and 308 pounds, Shelley is being viewed as a guard or center at Winona after playing tackle for the Spartans. Shelley said he likes the idea of playing on the interior of the line. He got to play guard in one game last season, against Ellsworth. He said, during that game, he quickly learned to like the ability to be a physical blocker.

He said Winona uses an offensive running scheme that is similar to what Somerset uses, in terms of blocking assignments. He said the big challenge will be learning pass blocking. That's because Somerset passed just 28 times during the 2017 season from its option offense.

"I'll play wherever I can get on the field," Shelley said.

Somerset coach Bruce Larson said Shelley is just growing into his size. When the coaches saw film on Shelley, they quickly realized the bright future he has.

"It's a great opportunity for him. He's not done growing," Larson said, saying Winona recognizes the upside Shelley has for the future.

Shelley was already 6-1 and 260 pounds when he reached high school. It took time for him to catch up with his size and continuing growth. Over the past year, everything came together. He said he dedicated himself to weight room work and the results quickly followed.

Larson said Shelley didn't get the recognition he deserved because the Spartans weren't successful as a team last fall.

"If he had played in (2014 or 2012), he'd have been on every all-region and all-state team," Larson said.

Somerset defensive coordinator Joe Hutter is a former Winona player. Shelley credited Hutter with helping him to understand the opportunities that were available to him at Winona.

Winona recruited heavily in Wisconsin, with 17 of its 43 recruits coming in from Wisconsin. Other area players who are in Winona's recruiting class include offensive lineman Carson Madigan of Hudson, offensive lineman Payton Dachel of Bloomer, running back Justin Evans of Menomonie and offensive lineman Braxton Seemann of Barron. Evans was the Big Rivers Conference Player of the Year after rushing for 1,946 yards and scoring 31 touchdowns for the Mustangs. Winona went hard after large offensive linemen and Shelley is the largest of the 10 linemen recruited.

Winona State finished 10-1 in the Southern Division of the Northern Sun Conference in 2017.

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for more than 30 years.

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