Razorbacks’ Shultis inks with Newberry
By Eric Sprott
WALHALLA — Not long after he took the head job three years ago, Walhalla High School football coach Padgett Johnson was approached by Nik Shultis, who wasted little time laying out his intentions.
“Nik was one of the first kids that I met,” Johnson said. “He was just a very non-descript ninth-grader that told me he wanted to play college football.
“First impression, he was just very typical.”
Johnson came to learn quickly Shultis was anything but typical, particularly with regard to his work ethic.
Described as a “student of the game” by his head coach, Shultis realized his goal Wednesday, as he signed to continue his football career at Newberry College, where he’ll play as a hybrid linebacker and defensive end for the Wolves.
The Razorbacks’ senior standout attended a camp at Newberry last year, and he was offered during a visit to the school last month. After visiting a few other schools, Shultis said he realized Newberry was the perfect place to call home for the next four years.
“It’s unreal, but at the same time, it’s a real experience,” he said. “I’m excited to take the next step, work hard and become successful at that level, too.”
That certainly won’t surprise Johnson, who had no shortage of praise for Shultis, who he said has an infectious work ethic.
“I realized real quick that he had a work ethic that set him apart,” Johnson said. “That never changed, and as he got older, got more mature and started learning the game more, he played the game with a lot of effort.”
As a senior, Shultis earned second-team Region I-4A all-region honors after finishing with 67 tackles, which included 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. That marked a major uptick in production for Shultis, who was a first-team Western 3A all-region selection as a junior after finishing with 55 tackles, one tackle for loss and two sacks.
And given his propensity for getting after the quarterback, Shultis feels good about his upcoming hybrid role at Newberry.
“Pass rushing is probably my best ability, and it’s something I’ve worked to improve the most with the shift in offenses going from running to passing more,” he said. “I feel like I’ll fit right in there.”
Shultis, a member of the Pickett Post Fire Department, will also serve with the Newberry Fire Department upon his arrival on campus, as he’ll stay plenty busy when he makes the move for college.
And Johnson firmly believes Shultis will thrive in anything he does given what he’s seen the last three years at Walhalla.
“I think he’s a wonderful example of somebody that has a goal and just goes to work to make it happen,” Johnson said. “I know he didn’t have all the answers, but he just went to work, and what he didn’t know, he figured out along the way.
“He just knew he had to work to give himself an opportunity, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
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