• Wildcat receiver picks up first offer

  • It seems a little odd that more college programs haven’t shown interest in Darrius Shepherd.

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  • It seems a little odd that more college programs haven’t shown interest in Darrius Shepherd.
    The Blue Springs wide receiver, who will be a senior this season, established himself as one of the best playmakers in the state while helping the Wildcats capture a Class 6 state championship last season. He was by far the top receiving option for senior all-state quarterback Wylson Lamb, hauling in 51 catches for 957 yards and nine touchdowns while earning all-state honors.
    He’s been on the radar of plenty of major schools. Missouri, Kansas State, Kansas and Illinois, among others, have had Shepherd on their radars. But it wasn’t until Wednesday that Shepherd received his first offer from Valparaiso University, a small Division I school in Indiana.
    The offer thrilled Shepherd, who attended a camp at Mizzou last week and met the Valparaiso receivers coach, even though he admitted some initial frustration over the lack of attention he’s been getting.
    “At first, I was kind of wondering about it,” said Shepherd, who was a finalist for the Otis Taylor Award, which is given to the top receiver/tight end in the Kansas City area. “But eventually they’ll come. I just have to be patient. I’m really just focused on the team right now and not worried about that. They’ll come.”
    It’s been an interesting offseason for Shepherd. In the spring, Blue Springs coach Kelly Donohoe was considering shifting his star wideout to quarterback with Lamb’s departure. Then the Wildcats found out that Ian Brown, a backup QB at Rockhurst last season who is entering his junior year, was transferring to Blue Springs and Shepherd moved back to his original position.
    Although it’s still a work in progress, Shepherd says he’s well on his way to establishing chemistry with Brown.
    “I think Wylson was a stronger runner, but Ian is a more precise passer and more accurate,” Shepherd said.
    And don’t be surprised if Shepherd still lines up a couple times behind center. He said Donohoe is still working on several Wildcat formations with both Shepherd and Brown lined up in the backfield.
    “I really like that setup,” Shepherd said. “We practiced it last year but never put it in during games. I’m looking forward to getting to run it.”
    Shepherd also says he’s faster than ever after earning all-state honors in track and field in the spring. He’s clocking a 40-yard dash time of 4.44 seconds after coming in at 4.56 last year. And he’ll likely have a bigger frame to fill out his pads and uniform come Friday nights. Before getting sick and losing seven pounds during track season, he was up to 177 pounds after weighing 168 last season.
    “I wasn’t as fast as I could have been last year,” Shepherd said. “After running track in the spring, I think I increased my speed a lot and I added weight to get bigger and have a stronger push.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Follow Shawn Garrison on Twitter: @GarrisonEJC

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