It has always been Mack Brown's policy to not offer an in-state prospect until late in his junior year, but a prospect like Shepard doesn't come around very often. He already has verbal offers from Texas A&M and Texas Tech, and many expected Shepard to receive an early offer from the Longhorns. However, the Texas coaches did not bend their policy for the future star.
"The coaches told me that they like what they saw on film. They like what I can do as a quarterback. Traditionally Texas does not offer sophomores," Shepard said. "Coach Brown said ‘Russell, we traditionally don't offer sophomores.' Coach Giles explained it to me. He told me that I was a good player and that the coaches liked what they saw, but they were not going to offer a sophomore. They told me that if I stayed healthy and continued to perform that they would probably offer at the beginning of my junior year."
Shepard listed his top three schools as Texas, Texas A&M and Florida. He believes that he could be very successful in both Texas and Florida's offensive scheme.
"With Texas and Florida, they give me the best chance to compete for a national championship. I know that Texas loses a handful of great players every year, but they have more and more coming back. I just want to go to a school where I can compete. Texas produces good quarterbacks and a ton of NFL players," Shepard said.
"I like Florida because they play in the SEC and that conference puts the most players into the league. I love the system that Florida runs. I think I could excel in either Florida or Texas' system," Shepard added. "With A&M, they are sitting on about 20 commitments right now. I think that they are heading in the right direction. They made a bowl game last year. I think with their 2008 and 2009 classes that I could make a difference if I went there."
Shepard picked out something special about each of his top schools. Which school leads in the Russell Shepard sweepstakes?
"I would have to say that my favorites right now are Texas and Texas A&M because I have seen their campuses and meet everyone on their coaching staff from the head coach to the camera man. Texas has a little nudge on A&M because they offer more of a chance to play for a national title. They have produced some great quarterbacks like Vince Young and Major Applewhite. Texas A&M doesn't usually produce as many NFL players. The out-of-state schools are not up there yet because I haven't gotten a chance to meet any of their coaches. After I get to know them, they might jump up there. Right now, I would say that Texas is probably number one and then Texas A&M," Shepard said.
Most prospects don't start visiting schools until late in their junior year, but Shepard has already started getting a leg up on the other prospects in his class.
"I have been to A&M three times. I went down there for championship night with one of my cousins who plays defensive tackle and another one of my cousins who plays safety. They invited me down for their junior day. I am planning to go down and visit Tech pretty soon. I will probably try to take a visit to Florida during my senior year or late in my junior year. I want to visit Florida, Ohio State and a couple of other schools. I have also made it down to TCU. I went down there for one of their practices and got to meet their coaches," Shepard said.
Shepard put up some great numbers as a sophomore especially with his legs. He rushed for 1,450 yards and passed for 789 with 26 total touchdowns on his way to earned all-district honors.