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May 21, 2011

LSU's Doctor Who - Russell Shepard

Doctor Who is a British science fiction character that frequently jumps into a phone booth and slips through holes in space to evade evil time lords.  If you are not a geek and want to fully understand my comparison that follows the video of Russell Shepard and Doctor Who, you may want to watch this short Doctor Who promo video.  If you are a Doctor Who geek or a fan of 1980s music, you will also want to watch the video.

The obvious question is - "Why dub LSU wide receiver, Russell Shepard,  'LSU's Doctor Who'"?  Calling Russell Shepard the Doctor Who of LSU works on several levels.

There are some obvious similarities between the British Doctor Who and Russell Shepard, the LSU Doctor Who.
Shepard does not look pasty white and British but after watching the video, you realize that both Doctor Whos have a very similar build - tall and slim. But the similarities are more than superficial.  Watch Russell Shepard run and you wonder how he slips through such tiny holes space.  It is almost like he teleports from one place to the end zone while evading the grasp of opponent defensive backs. Call opponent DBs "evil time lords" if you like.
Here are two videos that make my point about Russell Shepard's speed and elusiveness.

The first video clip is from two years ago (Shepard's freshman season) against pretty much the same Auburn Defense that was successful at limiting Oregon's stellar 2010 rushing game.

As a side note, announcer Bob Davie mentions LSU Offensive Guard Will Blackwell in the video clip.  For those not familiar with LSU football:  Blackwell missed most of last season due to a broken foot early in LSU's first game of last year.  Fortunately,  Blackwell has made a full and complete recovery and should be making more holes for Shepard to time travel through.

This second video of Shepard occurred in the season opener last year against North Carolina.

See my point? Russell Shepard seems to be able to slip through really tiny spaces in the time-space continuum and magically appear in the end zone.  That is a cool trick that not many people do nearly as well as Doctor Who.

There are also some other similarities between Shepard and the British Doctor Who that speak well of LSU's Doctor Who.
Like the British Doctor Who, Shepard is clean cut and extremely intelligent.  Shepard is smart on the field and conducts himself in a way that his family and all associated with LSU can be proud of but, it is more than just an "on-the-field" thing for Shepard.  Shepard is truly one of the good guys and it is not just a matter of staying out of trouble.  Before Shepard arrived at LSU, two years ago, LSU fans learned of how he had stepped up at the funeral of the father of one of his high school coaches to say the right words to comfort his coach.  Not many people take the initiative to step up and few find the right words to say in situations like that and Shepard was just a high school kid at the time.  No one would have thought less of him had he passed up this opportunity.  Tiger nation was also thrilled to find that before Shepard stepped one foot onto LSU's campus he pick up the phone several times to encourage other high schoolers to consider coming to LSU.  Shepard's initiative has a lot to do with why the 2009 Rivals #1, 5-star safety Craig Loston is a Tiger.  And Shepard has continued to show initiative in the classroom and in the community from the first day that he has laced up cleats at LSU.

It was a real breath of fresh air when Russell Shepard headlined the ESPN #1 ranked recruiting class in 2009 because LSU had just been burned by another #1, 5-star dual threat quarterback named Ryan Perrilloux.  Perrilloux was the first five star player recruited by Les Miles in his first year as head coach.  Perrilloux had all the athletic measurables: a cannon for an arm, great elusiveness and speed, size, etc.  All problems with Perrilloux were off the field.  As Russell Shepard entered the picture Ryan Perrilloux had blown his last chance and had been kicked off of the team.  LSU has not had consistent quarterback play since.

When Russell Shepard , the #1 dual threat quarterback in the nation, signed with LSU, Tiger fans imagined Shepard stepping into a phone booth to emerge as Superman.
Shepard has stepped into the phone booth but did not emerge as expected.  In all honesty most Tiger fans, probably including Shepard, expected Shepard to lead the Tigers as the team's quarterback.  In his senior season in high school Russell Shepard rushed for 1,946 yards averaging 7.6 yards a carry and scored 28 touchdowns on the ground.  Shepard also passed for 1,843yards, 20 touchdowns, and was only intercepted 4 times.  While that might be a cool accomplishment in Kansas, Sheppard did not play in Kansas.  Russell Shepard accomplished all of this in the top division of football in the state of Texas. Texas is the Lone Star Republic of high school football.  If you are number one there, you can be number one anywhere.  Consider all of that with this in mind - Russell Shepard has not and may never attempt a single pass in college.

So the darker side of labeling Russell Shepard "LSU's Doctor Who"  involves identity:  "who is Russell Shepard?".  While Shepard may be a living legend among dual threat high school quarterbacks, he is no longer a quarterback.  Most of the real success (as in the videos above) that Shepard has seen in college has been achieved running the ball but, Shepard is not a running back.  Shepard is a wide receiver at LSU and has earned a starting spot among some extremely talented wide receivers.

Last year LSU snagged passing game guru, Billy Gonzales, from Urban Meyer's daunting offensive staff.  Gonzales coached Percy Harvin and there is no player on the planet more like Percy Harvin than Russell Shepard.  Billy Gonzales is LSU's passing game coordinator and it is time for him to step up to the plate and help Russell Shepard clearly define his football role as that of LSU's "Percy Harvin".  Shepard has all the athletic ability of Harvin but, numerous off field reports suggest that Harvin is more like Shepard's evil twin.
Shepard deserves the chance to develop into a player that achieves the same kind of success at LSU that Harvin did while at Florida.  "Doctor Who aka Percy Harvin's Good Twin" sounds like a good story. I would love to see it become a reality.

Russell Shepard has the ability to be a college and NFL all-star but I strongly suspect there is a whole lot more in store from Shepard.  
Like the fictional British professor Doctor Who who is pitted against evil time lords in a race to save the world, Russell Shepard is a young man of class, character, intelligence and depth.  Shepard is one of those guys that seems most likely to be a real hero.  He is a man that I would be proud for my 8 year old son to look to as a role model.  Ultimately, Shepard may lead a huge church as its pastor or head a fortune 500 company or who knows, maybe he will grow up to be president some day.  He may choose some other field to conquer but, wherever LSU's Doctor Who choose to be, that is a place where you will find real and lasting success.  Watch the following video.  Look into his eyes and try to tell me that you don't see it.


Anonymous said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Wow! It took awhile to read the article and watch the videos but that was an experience! I want Shepard to win the Heisman and I am not even an LSU fan. Great use of video!!!

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