Shepard Big on Cal

Fresno (Calif.) Central cornerback Tee Shepard is arguably one of the nation's top prospects in the 2012 class. He added his sixth verbal offer from Cal recently. Check inside for his interest in the Bears and the latest in his recruitment…

Tee Shepard (6-1, 175) has all the tools to be an elite shutdown cornerback in college. From his size to his quick feet, fluid hips, recovery speed and his aggressiveness, he has few peers.

He's had a tremendous spring starting at the Las Vegas Badger 7on7 to having an "MVP" like performance at the Stanford Nike Football Training Camp. His most recent camp was the California Golden Bears three-day padded camp last week. However, after injuring his finger at the Fresno State team camp prior, Shepard was only able to visit the Cal campus and not compete during the camp.

"I like the new stadium, and the coaches gave me a lot of respect," said Shepard. "The golf cart had a flat tire so they couldn't take me around the campus. They just took me around stadium. The new stadium and facilities are going to be nice. I can't explain it. It's huge!

Shepard says he spent most of his visit with Cal defensive back coach Al Simmons and wide receiver coach Kevin Daft and some time with Cal head coach Jeff Tedford.

"Coach Simmons was cool," said Shepard. "He was talking to about his son, life, and just simple stuff. He was telling me how much he liked me. He saw [the Stanford NFTC film] and was impressed."

Despite all the attention he received on his visit, Shepard says the Cal offer surprised him somewhat. "I knew they liked me but because I couldn't workout I didn't think they would offer," he added.

Simmons and the Cal staff isn't the only person that watched his Stanford NFTC performance. Shepard says while touring Cal, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant defensive back Shaquille Thompson brought up the Stanford NFTC. "He was talking to me and said ‘you got the hype,'" said Shepard. "But he thought I was a senior when he found out I was [class of 2012] like him, he was surprised."

Thompson and his Grant teammates are all considering Cal, and Shepard says Thompson was encouraging him to make Cal his college choice as well. But Shepard could also face some recruitment from his own teammates.

"Pretty much, we are planning to go to college together," said Shepard of his Central teammates.

Central running back Brendon Bigelow, wide receiver B.J. Kelley, and quarterback Mike Baker visited Cal the same day with Shepard. "If [Cal] offers B.J. and Mike, we're going to think about coming," said Shepard.

Nonetheless, Shepard isn't basing his decision on his teammates. He says his top five comprises Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Fresno State, and Notre Dame. Shepard says player history and position coaching will play a factor in his recruitment.

One of his favorite players, current Oakland Raider Nnamdi Asomugha, played at Cal, which Shepard says is "eye-opening." Coincidently, Asomugha's position coach while at Cal was current Fresno State defensive coordinator Randy Stewart.

"I like Coach Stew, him and [head] Coach [Pat] Hill were coaching me at their camp," said Shepard. "I was surprised Pat Hill knew me. He was coming up to me and saying ‘nice play Tee Shepard.'"

The Bulldogs are the only school in his top five that hasn't offered. "They said we're going to talk about it after September 1," said Shepard.

While Bigelow is his only teammate with a Cal offer, the Bulldogs have extended offers to Kelley and Central running back Robert Johnson. Shepard says staying close to home is an option, but he admits he hasn't visited enough schools to be certain.

"I'm supposed to visit Notre Dame soon," said Shepard. "[TE] Coach [Mike] Denbrock is cool. I can't say more about Notre Dame until I visit them."

Shepard's position coach Tony Perry has sent numerous defensive backs to D1 programs, including Robert Peele, Bernard Hicks, and Charles Amadi to Cal. Perry has stated Shepard is the best young corner he's coached. "He'll be better than all of them," Perry said in reference to the 30 plus defensive backs he's sent to four-year colleges.

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