USATodaySports/Wayrynen

WSU’s Shephard: Practice like it’s the Super Bowl

WASHINGTON STATE inside receivers coach JaMarcus Shephard wants his group this spring and beyond to approach practice “with a chip on their shoulder all the time.” And he pointed to one of the Cougars’ outside receivers as Exhibit A.

Gabe Marks, he kinda does that already and it’s very impressive -- he comes to work every day like it’s the Super Bowl,” said JaMarcus Shephard. “His work ethic and what he does is extremely impressive. I want to bring the (inside receivers) along to that same kind of mentality. Because practice should be the Super Bowl. And then on game day, you just go out and have fun.”

WSU has five on the roster from Florida, a number that may uptick with Shephard on board – he recruited Miami, Orlando, Daytona Beach and “all over Florida, really” for Western Kentucky. But Florida will be an area WSU spot recruits. What will Shephard’s primary recruiting territories be at WSU?

“That’s still yet to be determined. Initially, I think the thought is all our coaches are going to recruit somewhat down in California, so I’m sure I’ll have an area down there somewhere. Wherever it is, I’m going to hit it hard,” said Shephard.

Shephard talked at length about his passion for recruiting, saying the most important thing he does is to stop talking.

“I don’t care what home I go into, it can be a home in Beverly Hills or in one of the worst neighborhoods, I’m easily capable of relating to people (because) I listen,” said Shephard.  “And that to me is the key point. I tell coaches all the time – listen. Quit talking sometimes and actually listen to what the kid is trying to tell you about what he wants, what the family wants. You have to listen.

“I don’t have any (recruiting) tricks. I listen and I’m passionate about recruiting. Those are the two things that make me a really good recruiter.”

Because Shephard only officially came on board at WSU shortly before Signing Day, he didn’t spent a lot of days out on the recruiting trail for WSU in California. But the time he was out there was memorable.

“It was great -- it’s a great feeling walking into every single school and seeing how much they love Mike Leach… they’re all wondering when he’ll come by to visit and see them… I’m really excited to work for Coach Leach. He’s a tremendously well respected man in this profession. I want to learn from the other coaches here and most certainly, also from Coach Leach,” said Shephard.

Shephard said he was particularly excited to get going full steam on recruiting the 2017 WSU class. He also took a moment to reflect on the 2016 crop that became official last week.

"It’s a great group of young men, on and off the field. I was very impressed by what these coaches here have done already… They got talented guys who are coming in here and some of them may have a chance to compete for starting jobs right away, even with all of the talent we have coming back,” said Shephard.

RELATED STORY: Building the perfect inside receiver with JaMarcus Shephard


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