NORMAN — The crimson, No. 3 jersey and the guy wearing it, running around Oklahoma's practice field and catching passes, look awfully familiar to Cale Gundy.
Gundy was a young boy in the mid-1980s, watching a quick and sure-handed, if maybe a little undersized, receiver named Derrick Shepard make plays for the Sooners.
Today, as OU's running backs coach, Gundy sees a lot of Derrick Shepard in Sooners true freshman Sterling Shepard.
“He looks just like his daddy running around,” Gundy said. “I can remember as a kid, watching his dad run around, and he looks just like his dad.”
His father is one of two former Sooners with whom Sterling Shepard has been compared by those around the program.
Shepard's on-field strengths have many thinking he could be the next Ryan Broyles, the recently departed all-time NCAA receptions leader and current Detroit Lion.
High praise, to be sure. Shepard could very well find himself occupying Broyles' slot position as a true freshman after impressive showings during summer workouts and fall practices.
Comparisons between Sterling Shepard and his father, though, carry with them a family legacy and memories of his hero, whose untimely death left him with a painful void.
Gundy was struck by just how much Sterling Shepard looks and plays like his dad in a No. 3 Sooners jersey; still, that doesn't mean there aren't some differences between the two Shepards, at least as freshmen.
Derrick Shepard arrived at Oklahoma in 1982 as a 159-pound walk-on quarterback before moving to wideout, earning a scholarship, winning a national championship and playing five NFL seasons.
Sterling Shepard, on the other hand, was a four-star recruit from Heritage Hall with lots of offers, and enters his freshman season weighing 188 pounds.
“The difference is, he's as big as his dad was as a senior in college,” Gundy said.
As a senior at Heritage Hall last season, Shepard made 73 catches for 1,243 yards and 17 touchdowns.
His 5-foot-10 frame, intelligence and hands made him exciting to many Sooner fans, who saw Shepard as a possible successor to Broyles.
Reports and rumors through the summer indicated Shepard was performing extremely well and on his way toward earning playing time and maybe even a starting role, especially in the aftermath three receivers' indefinite suspension in May.
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