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Sports · March 4, 2015

Sheppard’s strength garners college football offer

Photo/John Huggins
Liberty guard Kris Sheppard played a major role in the Eagles' 2014 success. He's verbally agreed to a substantial scholarship offer from Div. II Virginia State University where he'll play on the Trojans' offensive line this fall.
Photo/Kimberley Huggins
Kris Sheppard constantly pushed defenses around last fall, opening holes for his backfield to run through.
(Virginia State) is a smaller school and that’s important to me but I’m very fond that it’s a Historically Black College. My parents are happy that I chose a school I really like and not just by the fact they gave me a scholarship.
— Former Liberty offensive guard and new VSU football player Kris Sheppard
Kris Sheppard
• Age: 18

• Home: Remington

• School: Senior at Liberty High

• Football: Second-team guard = Conference 22, 2014

• Family: father, Dennis Sheppard; mother, Nikki Washington-Sheppard

• Plans: Will study computer science and play football at Virginia State University in the fall.
With no individual stats to back him up, Kris Sheppard had to rely on game film showing his strength and power off the offensive line to earn a college scholarship.

It helped his Liberty High School teammates produced 6,261 yards with many of the 4,780 rushing yards following his blocks from his right guard position.

Time after time, quarterback Aaron Walters and the Eagles’ backfield began their epic runs behind Sheppard.

His blocks decisively thwarted linebackers, knocking them off their feet – giving his backs holes big enough for a Mack truck to speed through.

The 6-foot-3, 320-pounder finally got his due Tuesday afternoon when he verbally agreed to a ¾ athletic scholarship offer from Virginia State University.

He’ll sign his National Letter of Intent as soon as Liberty head football Coach Sean Finnerty can set up a ceremony.

“Kris is one of the most likeable kids,” Coach Finnerty said via a text message Tuesday night. “He’s worked extremely hard to reach the goal of playing college football. I know of no kid more deserving.”

Sheppard follows fellow lineman R.J. Proctor, who signed his LOI with the University of Virginia, Feb. 4.

According to Finnerty, a third lineman, Ben Wolfe will soon decide on a D-III program.

VSU is a NCAA Div. II program in Ettrick, a small town in Chesterfield County along the Appomattox River, outside Petersburg.

The Trojans play in the highly-competitive Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association where it consistently has proven to be a winner.

The team went 8-0 in conference play in 2014 and 10-3 overall. VSU lost to Bloomsburg State, 35-14, in the second-round Super Regions of the NCAA D-II playoffs.

Sheppard, 18, also played defensive tackle for the Eagles but said Tuesday evening in an interview his new school wanted him solely for offense.

“I haven’t had a lot of time talking about specifics with (offensive line) Coach (Alex) Stadler,” Sheppard said. “Right now, we’re building a relationship with each other.”

Stadler, like Virginia State’s head Coach Byron Thweatt are new to the program.

Former head Coach Latrell Scott (19-4, two seasons) left after last season for a similar position at Norfolk State.

Thweatt, a former all-ACC linebacker at U.Va. and an assistant at the University of Richmond, was hired in early January. Stadler signed shortly thereafter.

The program signed four players Feb. 4 and players like Sheppard have begun trickling in.

Sheppard says he chose Virginia State over programs like West Virginia’s Glenville State and Shepherd University and U.Va.-Wise and Shenandoah University, because of its historic setting.

“It’s a smaller school and that’s important to me but I’m very fond that it’s a Historically Black College,” Sheppard said. “My parents are happy that I chose a school I really like and not just by the fact they gave me a scholarship.”

The Remington native plans to pursue a degree in computer science at Virginia’s second land-grant university.
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