By Walter Agnitsch:
It is no surprise to Oklahoman’s that Sterling Shepard is turning heads in the New York Giants training camp. Unfortunately, a large percentage of Oklahoma fans are Dallas Cowboys fans. The Cowboys who are a division rival of the Giants will now know the pain that Sterling has brought to secondary’s the past four years at OU. There is no doubt that Sterling’s heart and athleticism will make him if not the best rookie then one of the top rookies this year in the NFL.
Coming out of Heritage Hall high school Sterling wasn’t even the most sought after player on the team. That belonged to the running back of the team Mr. Barry Sanders Jr, who is now playing for the OSU Cowboys. Playing both of them growing up I knew they were both going to be great players.
The moment that keeps coming back to me, the one that put Sterling on the map was his freshman year against Kansas State. He lined up on the inside and ran an out route, Landry Jones immediately hits him and he turned and absolutely high hurdled Nigel Malone of Kansas State. It was one of the few games I was in attendance to see. Everyone really didn’t know what he had just done. It wasn’t until they showed the replay that everyone in the stands freaked out. Sterling went on to have 45 catches for 621 yards and 3 touchdowns. Sterling ended his career at OU with 233 catches for 3,482 yards and 26 touchdowns. That is second all-time behind Ryan Broyles. Sterling was able to put up these numbers with two average quarterbacks for two seasons in Trevor Knight and Blake Bell. He also had to deal with an injury his junior year that made him miss some games.
Sterling’s athleticism and ability to play football isn’t the only thing that makes him a star, he also has a great heart and is one of the hardest working football players I’ve seen. At the age of six, he lost his father Derrick Shepard to a heart condition. It takes a lot of strength to be able to overcome that and not be mad at the world. Sterling had this to say about his father and OU in the Players Tribune, “I felt really close to my dad during my time at Oklahoma — wearing his number 3 jersey, playing on the same fields he played on and in the same rivalry games he played in. I had an incredible four years at Oklahoma. It was everything I dreamed it would be as a kid, and more.” The old cliché of this was more than just a game is true, this was a way for Sterling to connect with his father and it was an honor watching him for four years becoming one of the greatest wide receivers in the history at OU.
Sterling has a great opportunity with the Giants. They have two pro bowl wide receivers in Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. Defenses will put most of their focus on those two guys giving Sterling ample amount of one on one situations in the slot. My prediction for the season is he will have 40 catches for 800 yards. Get ready Dallas Cowboy fans the man you once loved is playing for another team and might tear up your secondary this year. If you are interested in reading Sterling’s entire story on the Players Tribune here is the link http://www.theplayerstribune.com/sterling-shepard-giants-rookie-dad-oklahoma/.