Prep writer Robert Przybylo talks Sterling Shepard
Oklahoman prep writer Robert Przybylo, who covers private school football as a part of his beat, answers questions about OU commitment and HH star Sterling Shepard:
Q: What kind of player do you believe Sterling will be at the next level? Is there a comparison out there?
Robert Przybylo: People might think it’s a little crazy, but I see a lot of former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard of Michigan in Shepard. Howard was listed at 5-10 and 180 pounds, while right now Shepard is 5-10 and 175 (though he has been in the weight room all winter). I feel Shepard is a little bit stronger, while Howard might have the slight edge in speed and elusiveness. Both just had that special ability to make plays happen when you didn’t think it was possible. Way too early to be giving Shepard a Heisman Trophy, obviously, but he can/should make an impact at OU.
Q: What are Sterling’s strengths and weaknesses?
Przybylo: His strength and weakness is the same thing, I believe. He only knows one way to play – hard. He never takes a play off but that’s led to some problems. Shepard had two concussions as a sophomore. He said he learned some tips from teammate Barry J. Sanders going into his junior year on making cuts and avoiding big hits, and Shepard did stay relatively healthy last year. You talk about Shepard, and you have to mention his vertical leap of 38 inches. If it’s anywhere near the vicinity of Shepard making a play, he’s going to. He’s a lot more of a physical player than one might expect from his size, but he’s also great in the open field. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. When Sanders went down with his foot injury, Heritage Hall coach Andy Bogert put Shepard in the same kind of role he put former Charger great and New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. That’s about the highest compliment you can give someone, right?
Q: How do you compare the collegiate potential between Sterling and Sanders?
Przybylo: First off, you can’t go wrong with either kid. Shepard is the most humble high school player I’ve ever encountered. He really believed that nobody was going to offer him. Like I said before, I see Shepard a lot as a Howard/Rocket Ismail type of explosive player. Someone you have to watch every time he touches the ball. Sanders’ willingness to keep working has made me a big believer. He doesn’t just rest on his laurels or family name. Everybody knows how well he is able to run, but he has put the time in to become a better receiver. And if you ask Bogert, Sanders’ blocking ability has been the biggest thing he has improved on in his time at Heritage Hall.
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