Coach Spotlight: Donovan Sheffield

Ricky Bowers was on the cusp of leading The Enswoth School (Nashville, Tenn.) to a fifth straight TSSAA-Division II-AA state championship but the streak ended on December 5th when his Tigers fell to Montgomery Bell Academy. One of the top players during that run was Donovan Sheffield, who committed to Vanderbilt in the summer of 2012.

VandyMania spoke with Coach Bowers about what Sheffield has meant to Ensworth football.

"What impresses me the most about Donovan," Bowers said, "is how he continued to strengthen his game week after week, month after month, year after year, while he was here. I don't think that will stop. I believe that Donovan's best football is ahead of him. If he had a weakness to his game, and I don't think it was a very big one, it was in his ball skills. He kept working on that and now I think it's one of his biggest strengths.

"It seemed like Donovan was in on every big play we had this year. He made quite a few in the state championship game as well. He'll play defensive back in college but he can play wide receiver and running back as well. We wanted to take advantage of his considerable talent and athleticism. He came up big for us in the playoffs every year he was here with some huge catches. Donovan does some of his best work in clutch situations."

Sheffield is a Vanderbilt legacy. His father, Robert, was part of a stellar recruiting class Gerry DiNardo had in 1993. He was ready to follow in his father's footsteps and committed to James Franklin prior to his departure to Penn State. When Derek Mason, who had been recruiting Sheffield to Stanford, was hired, he re-committed to the new coach.

"I think what will set Donovan apart when he gets to Vanderbilt is he has the right kind of work ethic," said Bowers. "We've had some players go far at the college and pro level and Donovan has that same type of drive it takes to be successful at the higher levels. He's a very mature, responsible, dependable kind of person who won't have any off-the-field stuff holding him back. He's very gifted athletically with tremendous speed and is the consummate professional in terms of wanting to improve and do it the right way. It don't see anything that would prevent Donovan from having a big career at Vanderbilt.

"Everybody at Ensworth likes Donovan. He's a kid who's impossible not to like. Great student. You'd have to ask him on the specifics on why he chose Vanderbilt. I know that he's very passionate about the program. He grew up around the program and has always been a big fan. I expect to see him doing big things [at Vanderbilt] in the near future."

Sheffield also held offers from Georgia Tech, Northwestern, Ole Miss and Stanford at the time of his commitment to the Commodores. It only took four days after Franklin's offer in June of 2012 for Sheffield to commit. He then gave a second commitment to Derek Mason close to a month after he was named head coach.

Bowers says he's unsure but it's not likely that Sheffield will play in a post-season all-star game, but will return to track and field in the spring where he competes in the 100 and 200 meter dash events, the long jump, and the triple jump.

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