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Oklahoma football: Poised to carry on the Shepard Sooner lineage

STERLING SHEPARD — His father and two uncles played football for the University of Oklahoma. On the brink of National Signing Day, former Sooner quarterback Darrell Shepard says his nephew is “going to be a good one.”
by Jenni Carlson Published: January 30, 2012

Along with Sterling's mom, Cheri, they walked the campus. They strolled the field. They toured the stadium. They went to the weight room, the training room and the locker room.

Much of it was familiar to Darrell, but at the same time, so much was different.

“It was surreal,” he said. “Oklahoma changed a bit since '82, but the memories are still there.”

The thing that he loved most, though, was spending time with this nephew. Darrell lives in Michigan, where he is an international representative for the United Auto Workers. Sterling lives in Oklahoma. They talk or text regularly, but Darrell knows it's not the same as seeing each other.

“I just wish I was there with him during his high school career to help him,” Darrell said. “Since his dad is not there, I just wish I could've been a part of it.”

Now, uncle and nephew will get to share that Shepard Sooner lineage.

Being a Sooner is what Sterling always wanted. It's why he didn't make any other official visits. It's why he said yes to OU even though there will be pressure following in the footsteps of those who came before him, most notably his father.

He plays the same position, wears the same number, even displays many of the same mannerisms as Derrick did.

Darrell believes Sterling can handle the comparisons that are sure to come. The teenager has managed so much so well already, there's to reason to believe he can't handle this.

But what about Uncle Darrell? How will he handle seeing another player with Sooners across the front of his jersey and Shepard across the back?

“I can't wait,” he said, excitement in his voice. “I can't wait because I know ... ”

He stopped himself and his enthusiasm.

“I don't want to put any pressure on him, but I know Sterling. He's going to be a good one because he's got good work ethic along with talent.”

Of that, Sterling's uncle couldn't be prouder.

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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