Even after the incredible football season Heritage Hall's Sterling Shepard had in 2010, he knows there are still going to be doubters.
Scholarship offers from any of the Big 12 schools are impressive, but an offer from Oklahoma — that gets a little more scrutinized.
Shepard wasted little time in orally committing to Oklahoma, becoming another member of the Shepard family to wear the crimson and cream. His father and his two uncles were also OU football players.
But make no mistake about it. This wasn't a token family legacy offer from OU. Shepard earned the right and has earned the No. 3 ranking on The Oklahoman's Super 30 recruits for the class of 2012.
He knows with the commitment comes more scrutiny, and that's been a driving force for him since the end of last football season.
“I'm always looking for more motivation,” Shepard said. “Anything that can drive me to work harder is OK by me.”
Shepard made his imprint in the second half of last season. With running back Barry J. Sanders out with a foot injury, it was Shepard who had to carry the load.
Shepard scored four touchdowns in the second half in leading the Chargers to a 28-21 victory over Kingfisher in the Class 3A state championship game.
Then the offers started to come. Oklahoma State made the first offer. Missouri followed, and then the floodgates opened.
And Shepard, known for his bubbly personality, took it upon himself to hit the weight room as hard as possible. He elected to not play basketball and spent the winter in the gym.
“That's just the kind of competitor he is,” offensive and defensive lineman Markus Wakefield said.
Shepard has added nearly 20 pounds of muscle since the end of last season. He's still 5-foot-11, and despite putting on the weight, it hasn't hurt his speed.
He's not the biggest and not the fastest, but nobody made more jaw-dropping plays than Shepard last season.
After a solid, if unspectacular sophomore season, Shepard was a question mark. It was a question that was quickly answered in a dominating win against Polo Bowl rival Casady in Week 1.
“That's where it all started to fall into place,” Shepard said. “The game slowed down for me, and I started to really see what I could do.”
The rest of the state learned what he could do, too. Shepard scored 34 touchdowns; rushed for 571 yards; had 1,015 yards as a receiver; and he threw for three scores. He added 103 tackles and eight interceptions playing defense.
“I'm never satisfied,” Shepard said. “There's still a lot I can do and a lot the team can do. We want to go out as back-to-back champions.”