Arkansas enters its third season under head coach Bobby Petrino with high expectations for double-digits in the 2010 win column. Petrino led the Razorbacks to an 8-5 record last year and came up just a couple of field goals shy of reaching ten victories. Can Arkansas turn the corner in 2010?[details]
2009 (Senior): An All-Southeastern Conference selection last year and a pre-season candidate this season, Sheppard returns to anchor what could be a solid defensive front for the Razorbacks. The SEC’s third-leading sacker last year, he earned second-team All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches and the AP, and third-team honors from Phil Steele. He has 26 starts, 119 tackles, 25 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks for his career. He had one tackle, a two-yard TFL, in the Red-White Spring Game. In four scrimmages and the spring game combined, he had nine tackles with three TFLs for nine yards, including a five-yard sack.
2008 (Junior): He started 12 games for the second straight year and finished second on the team with 65 tackles. Sheppard played end at the end of the 2007 season, but was back at tackle in 2008, where he earned second-team All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches and AP, and third-team honors from Phil Steele. He had 47 solo tackles and 18 assisted stops. He led the team with 6.0 sacks (for 30 yards) and 13.5 TFLs (for 50 yards). He was second in the SEC with 1.33 TFLs per game and third with 0.62 sacks. He also led the team with 11 quarterback hurries, and forced two fumbles and had one pass breakup. He averaged 6.7 tackles per game over the last six contests. He had five tackles with a forced fumble and two hurries in the opener against Western Illinois. Against Louisiana-Monroe, he made seven tackles with a half sack for two yards, 1.5 TFLs for four yards and a hurry. He had three solo tackles and a hurry against Alabama and two solo tackles at Texas. He made four tackles with a seven-yard sack against Florida. At Auburn, he had four tackles with a three-yard TFL and two hurries. He had a team-high eight tackles at Kentucky, including a four-yard sack and two TFLs for five yards, and added a forced fumble, a pass breakup and one hurry. He made nine tackles against Ole Miss with two TFLs for five yards and a hurry. Against Tulsa, he had five tackles, including a half a TFL, and two hurries. He made six solo tackles at South Carolina with two sacks for nine yards. At MSU, he had four solo tackles with a one-yard sack and a hurry. He ended the season with a team-high eight tackles against LSU, including 1.5 sacks for eight yards and 2.5 TFLs for 15 yards.
2007 (Sophomore): He played in 12 games and made 12 starts, missing only the LSU game. He started at tackle in the first four games before moving to left end the rest of the way. He had 42 tackles on the season with a team-high tying 10.5 TFL (-32) along with a team-high 16 quarterback hurries. He also had half a sack (-4), two forced fumbles and a pass breakup. – Sheppard made six tackles in 56 snaps in the opener against Troy with four assisted tackles, two solo stops and a quarterback hurry. It was his first career start at tackle, and his third career start. He followed with six tackles, including two TFL (-3), a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry against Alabama. He forced Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson to give up the ball late in the third quarter, setting up a Hogs’ score. Sheppard earned Hogwired.com Defensive Player of the Week honors against the Crimson Tide. He made four solo tackles vs. Kentucky with a career-high 2.5 tackles for loss (-15) in a team-high 83 snaps. Sheppard also forced a fumble and logged two quarterback hurries. The fumble led to Antwain Robinson’s 16-yard return for a touchdown. Sheppard played just 37 snaps as the Razorbacks jumped out early on North Texas, but he logged another TFL (-3) to give him 6.5 on the season and the early SEC lead. Sheppard moved back to defensive end for the Chattanooga game and made two tackles with half of a TFL and two quarterback hurries as he adjusted to his new position. He was disruptive along the defensive front vs. Auburn with five tackles and a TFL (-1). Sheppard made five tackles with half of a TFL on 49 plays at Ole Miss. He also logged a team-best four quarterback hurries. Sheppard logged two solo and two assisted tackles in 46 snaps vs. FIU with two quarterback hurries. He made four assisted tackles vs. South Carolina with half of a TFL and a team-best four quarterback hurries. Sheppard made four tackles, three assisted, at No. 22 Tennessee. He also logged 1.5 tackles for loss (-3) with one quarterback hurry. Sheppard played only 20 snaps before twisting an ankle and missing the remainder of the game. He missed the LSU game with a twisted ankle. He started the Cotton Bowl against Missouri, but did not record any statistics.
2006 (Freshman): Sheppard quickly developed into a valuable contributor on the Hogs’ defensive front. He worked his way up to second on the depth chart at right defensive end behind Antwain Robinson. He appeared in all 14 games earning a start in the Southeast Missouri State game when Robinson sat out with a hip flexor. He tallied 12 tackles, including seven solo and five assisted stops. He garnered 1.0 tackle for loss (-3) and a half-sack (-3). He ranked sixth on the team with eight quarterback hurries in his true freshman campaign. – Sheppard made his collegiate debut by logging three snaps in the Razorbacks’ season opener against No. 6 USC. His play total expanded to 18 snaps in the Hogs’ non-conference win over Utah State. He earned a quarterback hurry against the Aggies. His first tackle of the season came on a solo stop against Vanderbilt. He played seven snaps against the Commodores. Sheppard played 12 snaps against Alabama and recorded an assisted tackle and a quarterback hurry. He quickly heard his named called in the Hogs’ 27-10 win at No. 2 Auburn with two tackles on just nine plays from scrimmage. Sheppard got to the quarterback in his first start with 0.5 sack (-3) against Southeast Missouri State. He also made four tackles - three solo - with two quarterback hurries. Sheppard played 28 snaps off the bench against Ole Miss with one solo stop and a quarterback hurry. Sheppard made a solo and assisted tackle against Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock. He played, but did not earn a tackle against South Carolina. Sheppard saw limited action against No. 13 Tennessee but did pick up a quarterback hurry. He recorded two quarterback hurries at Mississippi State in limited action against the Bulldogs. Sheppard played but did not record any tackles against No. 9 LSU and No. 4 Florida. He tallied his final tackle of the season (assisted) and earned 0.5 tackle for loss in the Razorbacks’ loss to No. 7 Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.
Personal: Born Feb. 13, 1988, he is the son of Ricky and Evelyn Sheppard. He is enrolled in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.
High School: He racked up 64 tackles, 15 sacks and one interception in 11 games as a senior for Coach Greg Guy. He helped lead his squad to a playoff berth in his senior campaign. Rivals.com ranked him as the No. 62 defensive end in the nation. He was a high school teammate of fellow Razorback Ray Dominguez at Bainbridge High School. He chose Arkansas over Southern Miss, South Carolina, South Florida, Alabama-Birmingham, East Carolina and UCF, among others.
Explosive off the snap, Sheppard showcases great lateral burst and quickness on his pass rush. Makes it very difficult for offensive linemen to reach him because he's so fluid in space. Does a nice job anticipating the snap count; he is consistently the first defensive lineman moving off the ball. Fires off the ball with a good pad level, knowing how to get under interior linemen. But Sheppard lacks girth and power in his base and struggles holding the point of attack. Is easily washed out of run plays inside and lacks power on contact. Uses his hands well to shed blocks, but he usually gets driven down the field before he can shed them. He never stays blocked for long and consistently is able to disengage and chase the play. Plays with a great motor and works very hard in pursuit. An ideal one-gap lineman at the next level, Sheppard is an undersized interior pass rusher. But his lack of power will affect his ability to consistently hold up against the run.