Sooner baseball signee facing tough decision

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DEVIN SHEPHERD, OF, 6-3, 225, OXNARD, CALIFORNIA:

JH: What did you think of getting drafted in the fifth round by the Minnesota Twins?


DS: "You know, there are a lot of outside reasons why I went in the fifth round. I was happy that I got drafted, because I told a lot of scouting directors that I wouldn't sign if I didn't get drafted in the first or second round. So when those rounds went by, I was just happy that I got drafted as high as I did. I guess I have a lot of mixed emotions about the draft."

JH: You were picked by the Twins, but you have a chance to play at OU. What are you going to do?

DS: "It is really day-to-day. There are days where I just want to go ahead and sign and go play pro ball and get paid to do something that I love to do. Then, on other days, I just want to go to Oklahoma and enjoy a great college life and go to a program where I know I can get better. So, I change my mind all the time. Right now I heart is with OU, but this is going to go down to the wire. We will just have to see what happens."b

JH: So are you happy with the offer that the Twins have thrown at you so far?

DS: "The money that they are offering right now is good money, but they haven't upped it from the spot that they originally offered me. It is going to take a pretty good investment on their part to sign me, because I don't want to just go there for a couple of years and then they release me. My goal is if I do, that I want to make it to the major leagues in three years. So, if I am going to sign I want a financial commitment from them that shows they have the same dream for me that I do for myself."

JH: I know that you don't want to give dollar amounts out to the public, but can you at least tell us by percentage how far away you and the Twins are from an agreement at this time?

DS: "We are worlds apart on the dollar amount right now. The Twins are not a big market organization and they don't have a great deal of money for the draft like some teams do. So, what it comes down to from what my advisor tells me is whether the Twins sign some of the college players that they drafted. If they do that, then they are not going to have the money that I am looking for and I will go to OU. If they don't sign those guys, then they are telling me that they will have the money to give me what I want.

"I talk to Coach (Sunny) Golloway all the time and he tells me that either the money is going to be there or it is not, and that I can't lose either way. Right now I can really see me in that Sooner uniform and I look good in it. I am not going to sign for just anything. We will have to see if the Twins are going to make a real offer. Right now we are worlds apart.

"I am a little disappointed that OU lost a left-handed pitcher in the draft in Chad Lee, because coach Golloway had put together a great recruiting class and it is disappointing that we lost him. But I am sure he will find some other pitchers who will be good as well."

JH: So coming in with a great recruiting class is important to you?

DS: "That is very important. I want to make sure we have a chance to make it to Omaha. I don't want to be at a school that makes it to Omaha and then you never hear from them again. I want to go to a program like the Rice's and Cal-State Fullerton's of the world."

JH: What do you think of the recruiting class that you are coming in with?

DS: "Right now we still have a very strong recruiting class. I just meant by losing the lefthanded pitcher, that any lefthander in the rotation can mean a lot to you. I think right now our recruiting class is 1 or 2 in the nation. Either way, I think OU is going to be in the College World Series in the next year or two and be there for several years to come. So that has a big influence on my decision."

JH: What did you think about OU and how they finished last year?

DS: "I got the opportunity to come out and watch OU at the Bedlam Series and, you know what, even though they didn't play well in that series I could see the kind of talent OU had. Tthey had just as good of talent or even better than some of the teams in the College World Series. They were just a break here or there and a couple of runs short of beating Rice at Rice and going to the College World Series. OU was very good last year and it is going to be hard to come in and follow that and live up to that, but we have the kind of class to do that."

JH: How are you playing this summer?

DS: "I have really been able to play much baseball. I have just been working out and taking about 800 swings a day and getting some great workouts in. The Twins had me pretty much locked down and I just got approval to play in the local Connie Mack league. I hope to get a few games in with them and then hope we make it to the Connie Mack World Series somewhere in Ohio. I thought about coming to summer school at OU, because then they could have placed me in the Cape Cod League, up in Alaska or at least in some great college league. But my mom and I talked it over and decided it was best that we do what we are doing right now. We are talking about a lot of money right now and we just can't turn our back on it, but if that money doesn't come forward I will be enrolling at OU in about seven weeks."

JH: Give us a percentage on the chances that you will be at OU in the fall?

DS: "It is a 50-50 chance, because anything can happen right now. My heart is definitely with Oklahoma, but I just can't make this decision with my heart. I know that OU has a lot to offer me, and coach Golloway and Coach (Tim) Tadlock has a lot offer me. The community of Norman has a lot to offer me and while college is not like putting money directly in the bank, but a college education at Oklahoma is like money in the bank. I will grow up at Oklahoma the away. I am also very impressed how the OU athletic program develops their athletes. I mean, their athletes get better on and off the field. Just look at Adrian Peterson and Norrelle Dickson and how classy they are, how great they are both on and off the field."


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