Tee's Time

Rebel Cornerback Tee Shepard, as all know, is hearing impaired, but since he has been at Ole Miss, he has been the recipient of new hearing technology and is hearing sounds, such as a whistle, he's never heard before.

"The first time I heard a coach blow a whistle with my new technology," smiled Shepard, with a huge infectious grin, "I thought a bird was in the Manning Center. I looked around and asked 'what's that?' and one of my teammates said it was the whistle.

"That was pretty cool.It was crazy. I was excited."

As most know, Tee is hearing-impaired.

"When coaches call signals, I can't hear them. I need hand signals," he explained. "I'm very good at reading lips, but I need hand signals on the field. I rely on the hand signals."

Before he got to Ole Miss, Tee's health insurance did not cover the new hearing technology. He wore big hearing aids and could not play football in those.

"I probably got ejected from 10 games or so because I couldn't hear the whistle and would hit guys after the whistle. I've hit a lot of guys late in practice through the years too," Tee stated. "Now, with the new technology, I can at least hear the whistle and a bunch of other sounds I never heard before.

"It was very difficult trying to judge things - when to keep going and when to stop. It was very frustrating. I tried to play with those hearing aids, but I couldn't and even away from football, everything was real fuzzy like when you are trying to find a radio station on the dial."

Tee is thankful for Ole Miss and the ability, with his new insurance, to get the best hearing technology. Head Trainer Shannon Singletary is also hearing-impaired, so that helped in Tee's cause.

"This is the first place I have ever been where my hearing issue was understood," he said. "He helped me a lot because he has similar issues. He understood and was there with me to help me."

Shepard is coming off a redshirt year due to a severe injury to his toe last August that required meticulous surgery and a long rehab, but he says everything is "pretty good" now.

"It's about 85%. I'm glad to be back. It was a freak accident. I had never heard of a torn ligament in your toe," he continued. "But it was all for the best. God made me better. I was disappointed, but it turned out to help me.

"I was kind of skinny last year. Now, I have gained about 10 pounds and that has helped me be more physical. I trust the toe now, and I don't think about it anymore, but I know it's still not 100%. It's getting there though."

Being physical is certainly not an issue with the hard-hitting Shepard. He knocked TB Eugene Brazley cold as a lettuce wedge earlier this spring with a huge hit that sidelined the running back with a concussion.

"I have always been physical. You have to be physical in football. Try going against Laquon Treadwell or (Demore'ea) Stringfellow and not play physical," he said. "They will abuse you if you are not.

"All the corners feel if we can cover guys like Derrick Jones, Laquon, Stringfellow, Cody Core, we will be prepared for the SEC and the quality receivers in the league. I believe ours are the best in the country."

During spring, Tee and JUCO transfer Tony Bridges, along with Kendarius Webster and Kailo Moore, have been referred to as a group of lockdown corners. Tee likes that designation.

"We can't run our defense the way we want to without being lockdown corners. I like that we are being thought of that way to this point, but we have to keep proving it," he explained. "We're on an island and have to take care of business.

"It's not pressure to me. I've been looking forward to this challenge for a long time."

Tee doesn't think he is a finished product - there is room for improvement in his game.

"I can do better with technique things and getting out of my breaks and learning the defense, but I'm getting there," he added.

Tee is excited about the prospects for the Rebels in the upcoming year.

"I think the defense is going to be more physical and have more depth than last year and I like how the offense is coming along this spring," he closed. "I think we have a real shot at being better next year than we were this year. At least, that's the goal.

"As Coach Freeze says, we are chasing greatness."

Tee Shepard has had to overcome a lot to get to this point in his football career, but it appears he's finally over the hump.

Thanks to modern technology and Ole Miss, he can hear a lot more of what is going on around him.

And it sounds good.

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