With the U.S. Army All-American Bowl’s pomp and circumstance happening in San Antonio last weekend, it was only fitting that a Kilgore High School player be involved in the mix.
Kilgore junior Jonathan Shepherd wasn’t in the game – he’s just a junior, not a senior, as required – but he was invited, and participated, in the national combine during the weekend, one of 600 of the nation’s best high school football players whose talents were on display for coaches and scouts.
Shepherd, a wide receiver, helped Kilgore to another district championship in the recently-completed 2016 season. To say Jonathan’s family has an athletic tradition in Kilgore would be an understatement; his father, Ron, is a former professional baseball player, as were his brothers, Jeremiah and Jaron. Another brother, Joseph, is currently suiting up for Henderson State (Ark.) University’s baseball program.
The Army All-American Bowl itself is the oldest high school all-star football game in the nation. Literally a who’s-who of football stars have made their way through over the years, including New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, former University of Texas and Kansas City Chiefs standout Jamal Charles, and current Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Kilgore has a history with the game, as well: former KHS and UT defensive end Eddie Jones played in the game in 2005.
The combine was held, of course, at the Alamodome, where the athletes went through all sorts of testing and drills, including running the 40-yard-dash, the benchmark for measuring speed of athletes, particularly in football; the pro shuffle; the three-cone shuffle; and vertical and broad jumps.
Also, naturally, the athletes’ heights are measured within 1/8th of an inch, and reach and weight (to the nearest pound) were also measured.
Shep and the others also went through position drills. For Shepherd, who’s primarily a wide receiver, that likely consisted of running routes, and facing defensive backs one-on-one.
Shepherd has also been invited to the Under Armor All-American Game’s national combine in March.
Shepherd was named last week to the District 9-4A all-district first team, as chosen by district coaches.
He caught 17 passes in the 2016 season for 259 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned six kickoffs for 144 yards, a 24-yard average.