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Oklahoma football: Sterling Shepard watches a teammate accept award named after father, Derrick Shepard

Sophomore fullback Aaron Ripkowski honored with Derrick Shepard Most Inspirational Walk-On Player of the Year award
by Jason Kersey Published: December 21, 2012
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/articleid/3739619/1/pictures/1913137">Photo - Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard (3) runs after a reception during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Texas Tech University at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012. Oklahoma won 41-20. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard (3) runs after a reception during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Texas Tech University at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012. Oklahoma won 41-20. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

After that first season, Stoops instituted Oklahoma's annual football awards banquet and honored defensive end Corey Heinecke and linebacker Roger Steffen as the first recipients of the Derrick Shepard Most Inspirational Walk-On Player of the Year award.

Heinecke and Steffen each went on to earn scholarships, and played key roles the next season on Oklahoma's national championship team.

During his true freshman season, Sterling Shepard has caught 41 passes for 578 yards and three touchdowns, doing it all while wearing the same No. 3 jersey his father wore nearly three decades ago.

Ripkowski, from Dayton, Texas, made his mark on special teams and in the short-yardage “Belldozer” package.

After presenting the award last week, Stoops announced that Ripkowski would be put on scholarship.

The sophomore fullback said the award is made even more significant because he's Sterling Shepard's teammate.

“We all have respect for his family, and everything his dad did for the program,” Ripkowski said. “It's a great honor to be able to win that award, to be named somebody worthy of getting that award.”

by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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