Hey folks, it’s that time again for your daily update on our countdown to kickoff. We are only three days away from finally watching the Oklahoma Sooners take the field, which means today’s edition in the series will cover perhaps the greatest No. 3 in OU history. That player is former wide receiver Sterling Shepard.
Sterling Shepard was born and raised in Oklahoma City and was a natural athlete growing up. While also a member of both his high school’s basketball and track squads, it was on the football team where Sterling excelled the most. Shepard was always a gifted player, but his unique history may have propelled him to greatness.
Sterling’s father, Derrick Shepard, played football for the University of Oklahoma from 1983 - ‘86, but the similarities don’t end there. Like Derrick, Sterling also plays wide receiver and even wore the No. 3 at OU. Unfortunately, Sterling’s father never had the chance to watch his son play for his alma mater. That’s because when Sterling was only six years old, Derrick Shepard passed away suddenly after suffering a heart attack.
Sterling has carried the emotions of such a tremendous loss with him on the field ever since, and it has helped shape him into the dynamic playmaker he is today.
Upon arrival in Norman, Shepard was already a known commodity. As a child, former head coach Bob Stoops would frequently have Shepard around the football program. Of course that had to change once Shepard was old enough to recruit. He was a consensus four-star recruit as well as a legacy, so the expectations were present from the beginning. Luckily for OU fans, Shepard was prepared to deliver.
Shepard saw the field right away in 2012, his true freshman season. Over the course of his career, Shepard would start in 41 of his 50 total games, amassing 3,482 yards and 26 touchdowns on 233 receptions. His crisp route-running ability and reliable hands were second to none, and his football IQ and leadership were equally impressive.
On Senior Day in 2015, Shepard’s final home game on Owen Field, the talented receiver was on the receiving end of something totally unexpected. Former linebacker and OU legend Brian Bosworth hand delivered a gift to Sterling: a magazine from 1985 with his late father, Derrick, pictured on the cover. 2015 was the 30th anniversary of the ‘85 season, and members of that season’s national championship team signed the front cover of the magazine. In a touching moment, it felt as if a very proud Derrick Shepard was present with his son on the football field that night.
After winning two conference championships in his four-year career and making the College Football Playoff in 2015, the New York Giants selected Sterling Shepard with the 40th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. During his rookie season, Shepard recorded 683 yards and eight touchdowns on 65 catches.
This fall, look for Shepard to continue rising as one of football’s brightest stars. This is one Sooner all Oklahomans should be extremely proud of.
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