The last six months have been eventful for Blue Springs High School graduate Darrius Shepherd.
In December, he won his fourth FCS Division I championship ring with North Dakota State as a wide receiver. In early March, he and the rest of the Bison got to visit the White House and meet President Donald Trump.
This month, Shepherd signed as an undrafted free agent with the National Football League’s Green Bay Packers and will get a chance to make the roster when he attends their rookie mini-camp this weekend.
“These last few months have been a heck of a ride,” Shepherd said. “I’ve had a lot of exciting opportunities, some things I really want to take advantage of.”
Shortly after the NFL draft ended a week ago, the Packers contacted Shepherd about signing him.
“It was a really cool moment to have that all come together,” he said. “I am excited to have an opportunity to play in the NFL.”
Shepherd was the leading receiver for the Bison for the past two seasons. The 5-foot-11, 188-pound receiver was named the Most Outstanding Player in North Dakota State’s 38-24 national title win over Eastern Washington in a game that he caught five passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He finished his senior season with 62 receptions for 1,065 yards and nine touchdowns, giving him 188 receptions, 2,841 yards and 20 TDs in this college career.
“I had an incredible career at North Dakota State,” Shepherd said. “At the beginning, I wasn’t super sure about leaving Blue Springs and going nine hours away. I grew to love it there. I couldn’t have asked for a better five years in college. The friendships I made there is something I will be able to have for the rest of my life.”
It also helped his cause that had a solid showing during his pro day. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds, hit 14 repetitions on the bench press and had a 35 ½ inch vertical.
“I thought I did a good job of showing my skill set during my pro day,” he said. “I got some good feedback from some teams about my route running. I was hoping to hear something on draft day, and I did.”
Now that he’s in the mini-camp, his primary goal is to make the Packers roster in any way possible. One route would be to make it on the special teams unit. With the Bison, he returned 19 punts for 296 yards.
“I want to show them I’m a playmaker and be consistent,” Shepherd said. “I am going to show up every day and do everything I can to earn a spot on the roster.
“I want to show them my skills as a receiver, but I also want to get involved in the punt return game. Whether it’s returning punts or covering them, I am going to do whatever I can to make the team.”
Should he make the team, he could have the chance to work with one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL – Aaron Rodgers.
“That would be incredible,” he said of possible working with Rodgers, “but right now I am focused on earning my spot and making the most of my opportunity. That’s down the road.”