LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard spoke to the media Monday for the first time since the end of his NCAA-imposed three-game suspension, admitting there were times he feared he might not get on the field.
“Sometime during this whole chaos, I didn’t know if I’d play this year,” Shepard said after LSU’s practice session. “Just to get out there (at West Virginia) and see the crazy crowd and the people cussing us out was a great feeling.”
Shepard started against the Mountaineers, catching one pass for 16 yards and running once for 3 yards when lined up in the backfield.
“I went out there and prepared,” he said. “I’ve been working out the last couple of weeks.
“I just want to be part of this team.”
Shepard was ruled ineligible after he spoke to a teammate during the summer about that teammate’s pending interview with an NCAA investigator.
“It’s been a journey,” Shepard said, “a humbling experience, but at the same time it’s going to make me a better man, player, a better father down the road, a better person.”
Saturday’s game against Kentucky will mark Shepard’s first chance to play in Tiger Stadium this season. Kickoff is set for 11:21 a.m. on the SEC Network (WAFB-TV) between No. 1-ranked LSU (4-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) and UK (2-2, 0-1).
“I’ll probably cry,” Shepard said. “This stadium has done a lot for me and my family. It feels like years since I’ve been out there. It’s going to be a great experience.”
Wing earns SEC honor
LSU punter Brad Wing was named SEC special teams player of the week Monday, an honor he appreciates even though he’s not sure how it will play back home in Australia.
“Some of my brothers friends ask him if I play in the NFL,” said Wing, whose father David punted for the Detroit Lions in 1990. “I tell him to say yes.”
Wing put on an NFL-caliber punting performance against West Virginia.
He kicked six times for a 48.7-yard average with no returns. All six of his punts were downed at the Mountaineers’ 3, 4, 5, 8, 10 and 11-yard lines.
Wing would rank third in the SEC with a 45.0-yard average if he had enough punts to qualify. He missed the last two games with what he said was a back injury he suffered in practice.
“They wanted to make sure it wouldn’t get worse,” Wing said.
LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and Wing also took defensive and special teams player of the week honors Monday from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. Mathieu was also named national defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Foundation.
During the game’s first series a minor skirmish broke out.
Then Sam Montgomery broke things up.
During the course of trying to play peacemaker, the LSU defensive end reached out and put a bear hug around the nearest referee.
“He told me, "Don’t hug me on national TV,’” Montgomery recalled.
Strong safety Brandon Taylor said he told Montgomery he could get penalized for touching a referee.
Taylor speaks from experience.
“In high school I shook hands with the referee and got a flag,” Taylor said. “But you’ve got to expect that from Sam.”
LSU holds a commanding 38-16-1 lead in its series with Kentucky, though the Wildcats memorably won their last meeting on Oct. 13, 2007, a 43-37 triple overtime upset of then No. 1 LSU in Lexington.
The Tigers are 22-5-1 against the Wildcats in Baton Rouge, including four of the last five.
From 1949-2002 the schools played every year except in 1951. That changed when the SEC established its current 5-1-2 rotating schedule between East and West division teams. The only other time they have met since then was a 49-0 LSU win in 2006 in Tiger Stadium.
LSU is 220-60-4 in night games at Tiger Stadium since 1960 and can even its record in day games during that span with a victory Saturday. LSU’s home day game record over the last 51 years is 24-25-3. ... The Tigers are ranked for the 37th straight week and have been ranked in 81 of 83 games played under Les Miles. ... LSU will be honoring its 1961 and 1986 SEC championship football teams at Saturday’s game.
The last word
“I heard a coach say, 'What is the reason that your football team is a good road team?’ They are a damn good football team. That’s what makes them a good road team.”