From Hawkeye to Jayhawk

Dynamic Texas wide receiver JaCorey Shepherd becomes the 14th member of the Kansas Jayhawks Class of 2011.

If there's one area loaded with young talent on the University of Kansas football roster, it's wide receiver.

In the last two recruiting classes, the Jayhawks have inked seven of them – eight if one counts super-athletic quarterback-turned-receiver Christian Matthews.

As a result, the coaching staff could afford to be more selective when recruiting wideouts for the Class of 2011. In fact, word was they planned on taking just a single prospect at the position.

Well, it appears Head Coach Turner Gill and Co. have found their man, after Mesquite (TX) Horn High School wide receiver JaCorey Shepherd gave his verbal pledge to the Jayhawks on Friday afternoon.

Early this week, Shepherd visited the Lawrence campus with his mother, at the invitation of his lead recruiter, Kansas wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt. Though it wasn't his first trip to campus – as a summer participant in AAU basketball, he'd been to Lawrence, Kan. before for competition – it was his first as a football recruit.

"It was good," Shepherd said, of the trip. "I got a chance to look at the facilities and talk to the coaches."

That he even made the trip at all was testament to the recruiting abilities of Wyatt, said Rodney Webb, head football coach at Horn High School.

"Coach Wyatt does a great job recruiting for Kansas," he explained. "Of all the guys I deal with, he's very impressive. And I know that he's very magnetic to kids."

The Jayhawks were involved in Shepherd's recruitment for months, and that didn't stop when the three-star prospect gave his verbal commitment to the Iowa Hawkeyes in April. But what prompted the switch?

According to Shepherd, it was all about his comfort level with what Gill and offensive coordinator Chuck Long are planning to do on offense.

"Me being more comfortable with the type of offense they run," he said, when asked what made Kansas a better fit in his mind. "They run the same type of spread that we run at my high school."

In Shepherd, the Jayhawks get a dynamic, gamebreaking talent to fill the role of slot receiver. Standing 5-foot-11 and weighing 170 pounds, his style of play will no doubt evoke comparisons to current Kansas starting slot receiver – and fellow Mesquite native – junior Daymond Patterson among the Jayhawk faithful.

In 2009, Shepherd hauled in 46 receptions for 672 yards and seven touchdowns, in addition to earning a reputation as one of the most dangerous punt returners in the Lone Star State.

"JaCorey is a really good all around receiver," Webb said." He's got kind of a rare combination. He's got the ability to get vertical, he's got tremendous hands and he's a great receiver to throw screens to because he's very much like a running back after he catches the ball."

Shepherd is the 14th commitment to a Jayhawk class that has grown considerably during the summer.


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