RECRUITING: Sheppard Opens The Door For UF

Kelvin Sheppard does not expect to make it to Gainesville next week for the Florida-Florida State game at The Swamp. Oh, he would love to absorb the atmosphere of one of one of college football's greatest rivalries but if he can't make it, it is because there is a greater priority for the three-star (by linebacker from Stone Mountain (GA) Stephenson.

(See Kelvin Sheppard profile)

Stephenson faces Parkland tonight in a state playoff game and a victory ensures a game next Saturday, so pardon Sheppard if he would rather be with his high school teammates such as Jermaine Cunningham and Marcus Ball instead of 90,000 crazies at The Swamp.

"Jermaine, Marcus, and I were trying to get there for the FSU game but our playoff game next week is on Saturday," Sheppard said. "We just found that out so we have to get with the coaches. But we definitely are coming down later. We were all coming on official visits."

Sheppard is self-professed Gator fan but he's already made a verbal commitment to LSU. He claims he is still committed to the Tigers but he wants to make certain he's made the right decision. Teammates Cunningham and Ball are not committed anywhere although Cunningham has made statements recently that he favors Florida. Although committed elsewhere, Sheppard at least seems open to Florida.

"I am still committed [to LSU] but I am looking strongly at Tennessee, Florida and Maryland," Sheppard said. "Jermaine and I will visit for sure sometime and I am not sure about Marcus."

The 6-2, 222-pound Sheppard may have gotten caught up in the euphoria of the moment when he made a visit to LSU on October 14.

"I committed on my visit to LSU," he said. "I am taking a look around and make sure I didn't make a rush decision. I have looked at the depth charts and everything and I think I can get the same at all the schools. I want to go to the campus and check out the atmosphere and see if there is somewhere else I might want to go."

The visit to Gainesville might change his mind somewhat. He says he's been a Gator fan most of his life.

"I have been a Gator fan since I was nine years old," Sheppard said. "Even in the ninth and tenth grade I was always telling everyone I was going to go to Gainesville. Coach (Stan) Drayton is recruiting me and is very cool and very good recruiter. He came to my school and let me know that they were still going to try and get me. He let me know just how much I meant to them."

Florida's co-defensive coordinator, Charlie Strong, has been corresponding regularly with Sheppard. Strong coaches the linebackers for the Gators' nationally eighth-ranked defense so he has taken a serious interest in Sheppard.

"(Coach Strong) has been hand writing me letters and saying they need big time linebacker like me," Sheppard said. "They tell me inside or outside. It depends how big I get, with my speed I can play outside. I am also physical enough to play on the inside."

Through 11 games, Sheppard has turned in the kind of stats that justify the reason so many of the top schools in the country have recruited him.

"I have over 100 tackles, 10 sacks, two fumble recoveries, an interception for a touchdown, and forced four fumbles," Sheppard said.

He knows what he is looking for when he finds the one school that is perfect for him. Sheppard is "looking for a family type atmosphere, academics, and coaching style."

Although Kelvin Sheppard is committed to another school, he has left the door open for the Florida Gators. It looks like Florida has a better than average chance on this one.

Fightin Gators Top Stories