From 1983-1986, Derrick Shepard was the best wide receiver on the Oklahoma Sooners team. He played with quarterbacks like Troy Aikman, Jamelle Holieway and Charles Thompson. Through his four seasons, he caught 76 passes for 1,237 yards and eight touchdowns in an offense that preferred to run the ball.
In 2000, Sterling Shepard was a young boy standing on the sidelines watching the team that his father played for. The year before that game, Derrick Shepard died after a heart attack at the age of 35.
In 2013, Sterling is now playing for the Oklahoma Sooners, wearing the same number his dad wore 20 years before. He became friends with the Sooners coaching staff as a child and walked on. He is now a scholarship player and – arguably – the best wide receiver on the Oklahoma football team.
He has played 20 games in his 1.5 seasons as an active Sooners’ player. Over that time, he has caught 73 passes for 969 yards and eight touchdowns. If Sterling catches three passes in the game with the Texas Tech Red Raiders, he will match his dad’s career numbers at OU. If he catches one touchdown, he will pass his father’s career numbers. He needs 268 yards to overtake his dad’s career numbers, and should have that in three games – easy.
It can’t be easy for Sterling Shepard, who wears his dad’s No. 3, to think about these things. But what can come easy is for fans to see him and realize that he has to be making his dad’s legacy proud. He has stepped into his father’s shoes and is playing with the same spirit – the same fire – that his father did so many years ago.
For old-time Oklahoma Sooners fans, it is like Derrick is back out there again. For Sterling, it is like his dad is watching him every Saturday. And he would be very proud of what his son has become.