Coming out of Columbus Catholic High School in Miami, Fla., Darrell Sheppard had many options. The Miami Hurricanes were knocking on the door; the Trojans of Southern California were interested, as was Boston College and a host of other fine college football institutions.
When time came to make a decision, Sheppard decided that he wanted to take his game to the state of California and play for USC. However, something happened and he was forced to pick another place to play.
This time it would be Boston College. Again, shortly after committing to BC, Sheppard could not meet NCAA eligibility standards and was released from his commitment.
Two choices were down, but there was still hope for Sheppard. That was because there was still one school out there that wanted him bad. They had watched him use his 6-foot-2, 235 pound frame crumple to defenses in Florida's 6-A division for 1,285 yards and 17 touchdowns in just seven games.
Marshall running back Darrell Sheppard
They had read about his accomplishments of honorable mention All-American by both Student Sports Magazine and PrepStar Magazine. So they took the chance on him becoming eligible.
And here he is.
After sitting out this past season as a non-qualifier, Sheppard took the field Wednesday with a fire in his eyes to get back to the Darrell Sheppard that he was when he left Columbus Catholic as the school's all-time leader in touchdowns.
"It feels good after a year to just get all of the kinks and bugs out," he said. "I'm trying to get my mind straight on thinking about what I need to do on the field."
Although Sheppard is extremely happy to be back on the field, he also expressed the joy he has that Marshall gave him the opportunity to come and play.
"I had other scholarships, but this is where I ended up and this is what I am here to do," he said. "I am here at Marshall and it is where God intended for me to be so I am going to play."
Impact of Sheppard
Sheppard's addition might have come at the right time for the Thundering Herd.
When Marshall found out that Chanston Rodgers would not be returning to the field due to injury, a concern for depth at the running back position came up.
Starter Butchie Wallace and backup Brandon Carey both return, but they are the only experienced college runners on the team. Now with Sheppard, a sophomore, and freshmen James "Tank" Tunstalle and Michael West, it appears that depth will be on the Herd's side.
If Sheppard can prove to the coaches that he can play right away, then it might open up the door for a redshirt year for Tunstalle.
High School Stats:
Junior year: 1,138 yards – 15 Td's – 121 carries – 9.4 yards per carry
Senior year: 1,285 yards – 17 Td's – 133 carries – 9.7 yards per carry
* Only played in seven games senior year due to injury (183.6 yards per game on 19 carries per game) * Turned in a time of 10.8 in the 100-meters.