State of the Hogs: Malcolm Sheppard

Malcolm Sheppard doesn't want a break from workouts. He's afraid of a lazy step.

It may be warm enough to hit the pools this weekend, if weather forecasts can be believed. Malcolm Sheppard has been in the pool for several weeks, cool weather or not.

Sheppard has a workout regimen that includes running in the pool on the Arkansas campus to help keep his body rolling in the offseason. It's something he's done since high school and he sees no reason to change something that's worked.

The senior defensive end always seems excited about Arkansas football, but he's especially pumped about the coming season, his last with the Hogs.

"I didn't go home in the two weeks before summer school, just worked out here," Sheppard said of his off time earlier this month. "I don't want to get out of the mode and have to get back into it. I don't want to get lazy.

"I enjoyed my time even without going home. I worked out every day, I played basketball, went swimming. I repeated that cycle every day. I run in the pool. I run in the five-foot area. It just gets your whole body moving at the same time. It keeps me in shape year round."

Sheppard, likely to be a preseason All-SEC defender, knows the Hogs will be overlooked in SEC predictions again.

"Coach Petrino told us it's good to be the underdog," Sheppard said. "You expect more out of yourself. We know what we are capable of doing this year. It's a good seat to be sitting in right now.

"This has been a good place for me, Arkansas. It's been a good ride for me personally. Now it's time to finish it off the right way."

Sheppard is from Bainbridge, Ga., just a half hour north of Tallahassee, Fla. While he loves home, he doesn't see much difference in what he's found in Arkansas.

"The people here have been good to me," Sheppard said. "I really have loved it here. I consider this to be just about as much home as Bainbridge now. Really, makes me no matter if I'm here or Bainbridge. It's great here."

That's typical Sheppard. Nothing seems to bother him, or keep him from working hard. At one point, teammates nicknamed him The Wood because he always brings it every day either in the weight room or on the practice field.

If he's had any problems at Arkansas, it's that he often goes too hard. Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said Sheppard was asked to play more within the scheme.

"He's gotten better at playing within the system," Robinson said. "Sometimes he vacates his responsibility, but more times than not he makes the plays. It's one of those things where you say, ‘Oh, my gosh, where did he go -- oh, yeah, way to go.'

"That's the type of player Malcolm is. He's always going to give you all out effort, get to the ball and make plays."

Sheppard knows he has to improve technique.

"Coming in to Arkansas, for me it was always about just using my natural ability to play football and get to the ball," he said. "My lesson in high school the whole time, just go play football. Then, you get here and you play the three technique (inside anchor) and the defense is so together. If one person isn't in sync with the defense, it's causing a hole. We are going to be gash. I had to learn how to just play my piece and not get too out of control. That's going to help us be a better team.

"Sometimes that causes me to slow down just a little bit, but that's a positive."

There have never been anything but positives with Malcolm Sheppard.

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