Shepard learns, teaches from mistakes
Monday, 27 August 2012 17:07
Most SEC football players receive criticism at some point during their careers.
That comes with the territory.
But there’s normal criticism and then there’s the criticism senior LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard has experienced during his time in TigerTown.
Most of it was deserved last season following his three-game suspension, lack of production on the field and sounding off on Twitter following the BCS Championship Game.
But the best part about falling is that it gives you an opportunity to get up and be better, and that’s where the senior finds himself in his last go-round in Baton Rouge as the oldest of five receivers expecting to contribute in 2012.
“I get the opportunity to show my scars, as we say now, and teach the young guys how to be successful and carry on the tradition,” Shepard said. “LSU’s going to carry on with or without me, and it’s my goal and my plan to do it the right way.”
Admittedly, he didn’t do it the right way last year when he caught just 14 passes and four touchdowns in 11 games. His lack of production placed other receivers like Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Kadron Boone and James Wright in a position to take snaps away from him. Shepard welcomes the competition, but it has had him flying under the radar a bit. He acknowledged that the lack of attention on him has motivated him in the offseason.
“Last year, I didn’t have my best season, and that comes from not preparing like I needed and having outside distractions,” he said. “So this year I really focused on eliminating a lot of outside distractions. I got away from a lot of the things I’ve done in the past, the social media, the not eating right, a lot of things that took away from things on the field. I think me eliminating a lot of distractions, it will help me on the field.”
And Shepard has no problem using his checkered past, and his improvement from it, as an example to the younger receivers on the team.
“That’s been my focus, handling school, making sure school doesn’t become a distraction. That means also handling things off the field, not going out, talking to the young guys and telling them the things you need to do because one you get into the season it’s a whole new ballgame. You have a lot of distractions off the field. You’re tired because you’re back in school full time. There’s a lot of things that can get your mind off of the task at hand. I just kind of share my experiences here, both negative and positive and help that the young guys out,” he said.
It’s unclear how much Shepard will contribute on the field in 2012, but thanks to his great attitude and acceptance of a leadership role, there’s little doubt he will contribute deeply in the locker room.