Towson wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard was all smiles when his phone rang and it was the Ravens on the other end.
After going undrafted, the 6’2″ 215 lb Maryland native (Owings Mills) was ecstatic when the Ravens wanted to add him to their roster.
“It was a dream come true. I was born and raised in Baltimore and to play for my hometown I felt nothing but great feelings inside. I look forward to working my butt off every day to show them I deserve to be a part of this great organization,” stated Sheppard when asked what it meant to be a part of the reigning Super Bowl champions.
Back in March Sheppard shined at his pro day and made sure he was well prepared for the scouts that were on hand. ” I wasn’t too nervous. I felt pretty confident in the results I was putting up because of how much I prepared for the biggest job interview of my life,” he stated.
Sheppard’s numbers were impressive: 4.45 in the 40 and a 10.1 in the broad jump as well as a vertical jump of 35 1/2 inches. “Right after the season ended I got right back in the gym,” Sheppard explained. ”I also worked with a track coach and we put together a great plan to futher my game.”
The McDonogh High School graduate was sincere about his training. “Gerrard didn’t touch a drop of alcohol the entire off-season; he wanted to make sure he trained hard and prepared hard to get the opportunity,” stated Family Advisor Brent Conner.
Gerrard brings size, speed and skilled hands to the Ravens receiving corps, who lost top receiver Anquan Boldin this off-season.
“I try to mimic my game after Jerry Rice,” Sheppard replied when asked who he tries to compare himself to. “The guy had such sure hands and his route running ability to separate from defenders was incredible, not mention how he carried himself off the field as well and that is who I try to mimic his work ethic.”
While playing at the University of Connecticut, where he spent two years, Sheppard had the opportunity to play against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl before he transferred to Towson. “Was the biggest game of my life,” he recalled. “I was nervous at the beginning but once I got the first hit out of the way I was OK.”
His transition was smooth to Towson; however, the Tigers were already playing preseason games which meant the transfer had to hit the playbook hard. “I spent numerous hours every night acclimating myself with the playbook,” Sheppard said. “I felt like it was a good transition at the time.”
One has to wonder the thoughts and the emotions of not hearing your name called throughout the entire NFL Draft. However, Gerrard stayed positive. When asked about the feeling he had when the Ravens contacted him he simply said, “Relief! I was very excited to see my hard work paid off but it also meant that phone call means I have to go ten times harder.”
“Blessed” is the word Gerrard used to describe himself, as Baltimore has a lot of competition at the wide receiver position heading into offseason activities and mini-camps. “I have been through a lot of things on the field and off the field but my faith has kept me working hard,” he also added.
Gerrard has a long road ahead of him to make the Ravens 53-man roster but his heart is huge and his determination is even bigger.
I for one will be rooting for the local Baltimore product the entire way.
Follow me on Twitter @sportguyrsr