The best photos of wide receiver Russell Shepard.
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THE FACTS: Russell Shepard is a second-year wide receiver out of LSU who led the Buccaneers in special teams tackles in 2014. Shepard was undrafted in 2013 and spent his first training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles, but was cut prior to the start of the regular season. The Buccaneers called the following day and he's been in Tampa ever since. Shepard originally committed to LSU as a quarterback. He widely considered to be the best dual-threat QB in the country as a high school senior in 2009.
Q: You had a great season on special teams. How are you going to look back at 2014?
A: "It was just a great season. I was just happy just to contribute to the team. Looking at the roster during training camp, I was kind of the outside guy looking in. So for me to make the opening day roster and, throughout the season, be able to contribute on special teams and to the offense here and there, I really enjoyed it."
Q: Did you have any previous experience playing special teams?
A: "I did my last year at LSU and I hated it but a lot of people don't realize – I played in a talented receiver room. My last two years of college I had 13, 14 catches. I played with Odell Beckham, who starts in the NFL. I played with Rueben Randle, who starts in the NFL. I played with Jarvis Landry, who starts in the NFL. I learned sometimes you have to be able to play special teams just to contribute to the team."
Q: You're a wide receiver now, but you were a really talented quarterback in high school. How did you end up playing receiver?
A: "Yeah, a lot of schools recruited me as a quarterback or athlete or whatever. I had a few schools that definitely wanted me to play quarterback. Midway throughout my freshman year of college, the other two quarterbacks I was competing with... we were all a year apart and they were just as talented. I thought about my future, the NFL, I thought I was probably going to be that guy that changes positions. So I thought it was best for me to change before going into my sophomore season. My sophomore year I played a lot of running back and I played some Wildcat quarterback and then my junior year I played all receiver. My senior year I played a little receiver but a lot of running back and special teams."
Q: Had you ever played receiver before that?**
A: "No, never played it before. I'm still learning. That was something that hurt me in college and in the draft – a lot of teams like my athletic ability but teams didn't know what position I was going to play. They knew I had the feel for the ball to play running back, but I didn't have the build. They knew I had a DB frame so I actually had a few coaches work me out as a DB. I always thought that offense was going to be my best bet in the NFL so I moved over to receiver."
Q: Since you've only been playing receiver a few years, do you feel you still have a lot of room to grow?
A: "Absolutely. I really just started getting comfortable playing the position my senior year. That's actually the time when I had my fewest catches in my career at LSU. It takes a few years just to make things natural. I had to learn from square one. When I was at LSU I had three receiver coaches and I had two offensive coordinators. Then coming out of college, I had Chip Kelly's offense and then I had to learn a new one when I got to Tampa. I had to speed the process of my development up so that's why I honestly feel that I've got a lot of room to grow and I can get a lot better if I can keep working."
Q: What are your plans this offseason?
A: "I'm in Houston. I have a real good relationship with my receiver coach down here, Reggie Moore. He actually worked at UCLA, he coached there for a little bit and played receiver there and everything. I work out with him. I work out with a lot of other guys, like Charles Sims. He works out where I work out at. Anthony Collins too. I see a lot of the guys when I work out at my little spot but I definitely think I'll see the LSU guys, Odell and Rueben, at some point this year too.
Q: As an undrafted guy, do you have a chip on your shoulder?
A: "Definitely. I have a huge chip on my shoulder. Coming out of high school as a highly-recruited guy and then playing on the big stage and making multiple plays... really, I was playing multiple positions. So for me to finally have one position, being undrafted, being cut already from an organization and being on the outside looking in this season to even make the team… to get where I'm at now... I'm definitely excited to see how far I can do."
Q: A few off-the-field questions. What do you think your most proud non-football achievement is?
A: The thing I'm probably most proud of, I would say, is the start of my family business. The biggest thing with me coming into the league was to save my money and invest it in things that I knew that I could do and something that could give back to my family. I started a trucking business after my first year. We actually just expanded it. It's turning into a pretty big thing so it's pretty cool. That's probably my biggest off-the-field thing I'm really proud of because I've created jobs for my mom and my dad. Business is taking off pretty good.
Q: How did you get into the trucking business?
A: "My grandfather was in it for 40+ years. That's how he took care of my dad, my aunts. But he worked for others. It's hard to make a lot of money if you don't have your own truck. My dad and my grandfather were always driving other people's trucks. Obviously with the money we make, I was able to purchase one and one turned into two, two turned into three. Now we have four. My dad is the field manager and my mom, she's always been in HR her whole life so she understands how to run a company. She does that for our company. I have the capital, my dad has the experience, my mom knows how to run a business so we all kind of put our hands together and we have Shep Boys Trucking."
Q: If you could have three people for dinner, living or dead, who would you pick?
A: "Denzel Washington, President Obama and Bill Gates."
Q: What's your favorite movie?
A: "Remember the Titans."
Q: How about your favorite TV show?
Q: Favorite food?
A: "Seafood in general."
Q: What kind of music do you like?
A: "I've got a little rap, some Sam Smith. I can go to the country. Coming from Houston, it's pretty diverse. Then going to southern Louisiana, I got a little exposure to everything."
Q: Is there a player you looked up to as a kid?
A: "I was a huge fan of Michael Vick. He was my favorite player of all-time. So for me to go from idolizing Michael Vick to playing with him in camp my rookie year was amazing. I got to catch balls form my idol. And he's a cool dude."
Q: Who is your funniest teammate on the Bucs?
A: "Dot, as everyone knows. He's the funniest. Demar Dotson."