When senior wide receiver Russell Shepard arrived on the LSU campus in 2009, he was a consensus five-star player projected to provide a major boost to an ailing Tiger quarterback unit. Fast-forward four years and Shepard is now a receiver, and one that many feel has not lived up to the expectations that a player of his caliber carries with them.
Once considered the most dynamic playmaker in the LSU arsenal, Shepard has accumulated 705 rushing yards and five touchdowns to go along 565 receiving yards and five touchdowns in four years of playing for the Tigers. While the 6-1 195-pound Houston native has not had the career that he expected, Shepard is finally comfortable in the role the coaches have assigned him.
"No sir, not at all," answered Shepard, when asked if he is upset with his lack of touches this season. "My whole goal this year was to be the best leader that I can be and to capitalize on my opportunities when I do touch the football. I feel like I've done those things this season, and I think I'll have more opportunities the rest of the season to make some plays."
Becoming a better leader was a goal that Shepard set forth for himself when he decided to return for his senior campaign.
"I put individual wants and goals away this year because that was the whole point of me coming back," said Shepard. "I'm just trying to go out and help the younger guys step into a leadership role to be able to carry on the tradition of being a Tiger."
Shepard explained that it took a while for him to realize what it really takes to become a leader and how important that role is for a team like the 2012 Tigers.
"I try to be a good leader for this team," said Shepard. "A good leader is not just the guy that performs well on the field week in and week out. It's the guy that's going to class and doing the things right on and off the field. I feel like I've done that and I've been able to help the younger guys so that when I leave they will be able to help the next group coming through. I'm just looking forward to seeing some of these young guys grow and make plays."
Following LSU's loss on January 9th to Alabama, Shepard entered his name into the NFL Draft, with had every intention of leaving LSU. After some thought, Shepard decided to stick it out in Baton Rouge, and it was a choice that he says was the best decision he has ever made.
"I love it," said Shepard, when asked about LSU. "I wouldn't trade my time here for anything in the world. I love this school. Coming here and playing for a school like this and a coach like Coach Miles and playing with a great group of guys, I wouldn't trade it for the world."
Many players at the collegiate level may regret their choice of school if their careers don't go as planned. Russell Shepard is not one of those players.
"It's crazy," said Shepard of his last season as a Tiger. "When you come to a place like this and have a lot of memories, it's kind of sad to know that it's almost over. Like I said, and I tell everybody, there were times where I had success here over the years and times when I wasn't living up to the expectations of certain people, but, I wouldn't change a thing.
"I would come again knowing the things I've been through here. There is nothing like playing in a game like last Saturday. That kind of put the nail in the coffin for me. I'm happy and I'm blessed to be able to come here to a school like this and represent them."
Shepard embracing leadership role
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