Back in January, after the abysmal showing in the BCS Championship Game, LSU nation got a bit of a shock when Russell Shepard decided he was going to head to the NFL. Shepard would reverse field, but not before he launched a salvo at the way LSU's offense was managed.
All is well now; Shepard is back for the Bayou Bengals and LSU is poised to make a run at the BCS title.
Speed. Surely, you remember his first legitimate highlight from 2009, where he went untouched against Auburn for six. Shepard can flat-out fly. He accelerates quickly and his top-end speed is some of the best you'll see in the game.
Shepard can stick his foot in the ground and get up field quickly. He is agile in his change of direction and when the ball is in his hands, Shepard is a threat to go the distance.
Shepard is the type of player that defenses have to account for every play because on the one play that people forget about him, he can score six on you.
We talked about how dangerous Shepard is with the ball in his hands; the problem is getting the ball. Russell Shepard does not make getting him the ball an easy thing to do. He doesn't catch particularly well and he is not a great route-runner.
Weaknesses in those two areas are how freshman Odell Beckham Jr. passed Shepard as an option in the 2011 season. For all of his playmaking abilities, Shepard does not have the attention to detail that being an excellent route-runner and pass-catcher requires.
After Shepard's blow-up via Twitter, there were meetings with Les Miles and a discussion about where Shepard would fit in the 2012 offense.
Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee are out; Zach Mettenberger and his cannon arm are in. That's a plus for No. 10, as the ball will be in the air more often and he should get a chance to make more plays. 2011's disappointing 14-catch season should be a thing of the past and with Rueben Randle gone, Shepard's targets should be higher in 2012.
Look for Shepard to cross the 40-catch mark and be LSU's second-leading receiver behind Odell Beckham Jr.