Class 3A: Heritage Hall's Barry Sanders, Sterling Shepard push each other to be better

By Jason Kersey, Staff Writer, jkersey@opubco.com Published: August 29, 2011
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Pull up to the Heritage Hall football practice field near the south end of campus on a weekday afternoon.

There, during one-on-one drills, an intense competition is brewing between two of Oklahoma's top college football prospects — Barry J. Sanders and Sterling Shepard.

“We're always pushing each other,” Shepard said.

“Sometimes he'll get me; sometimes I'll get him. It's just competition.”

Sanders, a running back and cornerback, and Shepard, a receiver and safety, always choose each other to match up with in these types of drills.

But it isn't just them that benefits from the intense competition.

“When you have those two guys competing against each other, everyone gets better,” Chargers coach Andy Bogert said.

“They're always out front, challenging each other every day. They're funny about getting after each other.”

The competitions bring out their differences — both physical and personality-wise.

“I wish I had his quickness,” Sanders said. “I can't guard him off the ball.”

And, as is natural in football, sometimes competition can get overheated. But Sanders and Shepard's close off-the-field friendship allows them to get after each other without anyone taking anything personally.

“We can get onto each other and not take it personal,” Sanders said. “We understand that we just want what is in the best interest of the team. We make sure each other are doing the best we can.”

Shepard said: “On the football field, you have a lot of moments where situations get a little heated, and we definitely have come across moments where we both get heated. We know that we're great friends both on and off the field, so we're not gonna get mad at each other from something that is a heated situation.”

So, other than intense competition, what may cause these heated situations?

“He plays a lot,” Sanders said, with a laugh. “He likes to have fun. And there's a time and place for everything, and sometimes his timing is a little off.”



Duo they most resemble: John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Running back Barry J. Sanders and receiver Sterling Shepard each bring different talents and make their own contributions to Heritage Hall, but the Chargers wouldn't be the same without either of them.

The same could be said for a dynamic music duo in the 1960s — John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the two main songwriters and vocalists of The Beatles.

After The Beatles broke up, Lennon and McCartney had wildly successful careers apart from one another.

When Shepard, who has committed to Oklahoma, and Sanders, who remains uncommitted but has ruled out the Sooners, move on to their separate college careers, expect similar results.

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