As he sat down in preparation to release his top 10 list, Miami Gulliver Prep outside linebacker Dominic Sheppard made a list of the pros and cons of each school high on his list. As he sifted through his large list and for many positives as one school had, Sheppard found at least one thing that that would constitute a negative.
Then he came to the University of Wisconsin, a school he has yet to visit but felt a deep connection to, and Sheppard couldn’t find one negative about a school that fit virtually all of his needs.
“I was weighing my options and was keeping track of what colleges were really talking to me and which ones were saying they were really liking me, and Wisconsin kept standing out,” Sheppard told BadgerNation. “Not many schools have been hitting me lately besides Wisconsin. They kept me informed that I was on top of their board. I really like the program and so I came on board.
“It feels great. It feels like the pressure has been released off my shoulders.”
The 17th commit in the 2015 class, Sheppard continues Wisconsin’s rebuilding project at the linebacker position. Losing at least five scholarship linebackers after the 2014 season, the 6-1, 210-pound Sheppard is the fourth linebacker in the 2015 class - joining Loganville (GA) Grayson OLB Mohamed Barry, Desoto (TX) OLB Chris Orr and Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy ILB Nick Thomas.
High on Sheppard’s list of positives was early playing time, especially since he has the ability to play outside or inside.
“That was the biggest selling point right there,” said Sheppard. “I want to play as a true freshman.”
Other positives included Wisconsin being in the top 15 in the country in his desired major of engineering and his relationship with wide receivers coach Chris Beatty, one of the staff’s best recruiters.
“He talked very honestly as a coach,” said Sheppard. “He kept always saying that he’s got my back, that he’ll support me if I need to go home for an emergency or if I want to double major. I put faith in him that the program will give me what I need and provide for me.”
“I caught him off guard when I committed,” Sheppard added. “I know I caught Coach Aranda off guard.”
A three-star recruit ranked the No. 61 outside linebacker in the nation by Scout.com, Sheppard had around 20 scholarship offers, including offers from Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame and Ohio State. Sheppard said he’s considering other visits, but wasn’t positive to what schools.
As a sophomore defensive end, Sheppard had 55 tackles, six sacks and four tackles for loss. He believes his experience playing high school football in one of the most competitive regions of the country will add to UW’s defense.
“South Florida is all about speed,” said Sheppard. “Everybody in Florida has got speed. It’s ridiculous. I don’t know if there’s a lot of speed at Wisconsin, but that will probably help me out in college.”