The SEC Blog will be counting down the top 150 players in the SEC every day, concluding on Aug. 30 at the start of the college football regular season.
No. 111: Russell Shepard, No. 10, LSU, Wide Receiver
2011 Stats: 14 catches for 190 yards and four touchdowns, seven carries for 52 yards, two kickoff returns for 48 yards.
Raw talent. He came to LSU as the nation's top dual-threat quarterback, and was moved to wide receiver shortly after arriving on campus. He played three positions as a true freshman in 2009, but was moved to wide receiver permanently before the 2010 season. He responded with 33 catches, 254 yards and one touchdown as a sophomore. He's got blazing speed and the athleticism to be a game-changer.
So far during his career in Baton Rouge, that athleticism hasn't translated into much success on the football field. Granted, the quarterback situation for the Tigers hasn't exactly been stable, which hasn't helped Shepard's progression, but he's far too talented to be lost in obscurity in the SEC.
My colleague Michael Felder over at Your Best 11 is bullish on Shepard, ranking him No. 130 in his national top 150. Put me in the "wait and see" camp. The presence of Zach Mettenberger at quarterback should help LSU stretch the field, which will certainly play into the strengths of Shepard. He will be around the 30-catch mark for the season, but the catches might not be the most important part of his game in 2012. If he can be a sustainable downfield threat, that might be all LSU needs to hoist the crystal football.