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Friday, April 25, 2014
Getting to know Kendall Sheffield

By Damon Sayles

Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

HOUSTON -- It says a lot when you can walk around various athletic events wearing a shirt that reads “Speed kills,” and nobody questions or contradicts you.

This is the fortunate life of ESPN 300 cornerback Kendall Sheffield. In his world, speed does kill. As does size.  And physicality. And overall athleticism. When those individual skill sets work together for him on the football field, it usually isn’t good news for an opposing receiver.

Kendall Sheffield
Kendall Sheffield is the top-ranked player in Texas, but he has even higher goals.
There’s a reason why Sheffield is the top-ranked player in Texas, the No. 2 cornerback in the country and the No. 12 overall player in the Class of 2015. All of the outstanding football traits he possesses frequently operate simultaneously. With every outing, he’s doing his part to redefine the term “shutdown cornerback.”

“That’s just how I play on the field; I’m a person who likes to get it done,” Sheffield said. “I’m long, I’m tall, I’m physical, and I’m fast. I’m someone who just loves to play cornerback.”

A shade under 6-foot and 180 pounds, Sheffield has good defensive back size to go along with sprinter’s speed. He has been clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.48 seconds, the 100-meter dash at 10.5 seconds and the 20-yard shuttle at 4.09 seconds. Add in Sheffield’s 41.1-inch vertical, and it’s no surprise that he’s a problem for offenses.

So what makes Sheffield tick? Genetics help. His father, Cecil, was a multisport high school athlete who went on to run track at Sam Houston State. His mother, Shelia, ran track in high school. The majority of Sheffield's family members were athletes in some capacity, mostly track.

Sheffield admits that off the field he’s a goofy, quiet person. If there's such a thing as a quiet defensive back then Sheffield fits that bill. Watch him on the field, however, and you quickly notice that he's an athlete obsessed with winning every battle on his proverbial island.

“My physical ability helps a lot, especially when I go against taller wide receivers,” Sheffield said. “With my vertical, I’m able to bat down a lot of passes. That’s a big factor, too.”

Being the best fuels him. LSU commit Kevin Toliver II is the nation’s top-ranked cornerback, and Sheffield has a goal of taking the No. 1 spot before the final ESPN 300 rankings are released. Sheffield also would like to crack the ESPN 300 top 10 and, ultimately, the top five.

Sheffield did add, however, that being ranked the No. 1 player in Texas is far from a consolation prize.

“It’s a blessing,” he said. “I’m just happy to see all my work is paying off.”

Sheffield doesn’t pattern himself after any player in particular, but he is a fan of what one all-pro athlete brings to the table. Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, considered one of the NFL's most dangerous all-around threats as a defensive back and special teams option, has accounted for 161 tackles and 12 interceptions in three pro seasons.

Peterson was the top-ranked cornerback in the 2008 class. He also was the No. 8 player overall. Consider that as another goal for Sheffield.

“He’s a big corner,” Sheffield said, referring to Peterson, “and he also plays special teams and a little bit of offense like I do.”

Sheffield hopes to have a similar career as Peterson. He has more than 30 offers from programs coast to coast, including Florida State, Alabama, Texas A&M, Texas, LSU, USC, Arkansas and Oklahoma. He is expected to announce where he’ll play college ball at the Under Armour All-American Game in January.

“Everybody’s pretty equal,” Sheffield said when asked if he had any favorites. “I’ll probably narrow down once I get closer to the season.”

About his recruiting: There’s a handful of individuals who truly know where Sheffield is leaning in his recruiting process. The majority of people know only that he basically has his pick of schools. Look for Sheffield’s recruiting to escalate through the spring evaluation period.

Scouting profile: Smart, very aware cornerback with savvy anticipation skills. Reads the quarterback and underneath route development extremely well in zone. Passes off receivers and jumps immediate threats extremely well. Relies on superb speed and athletic ability more than coverage technique but he can shut down opposing receivers in man-to-man. Quick in transition, at times can sink his hips more, but overall is smooth in his movements and sharp in and out of breaks. Still needs development in run support, but not due to a lack of willingness. -- Tom Luginbill

Handicapping the race: Many feel the in-state battle between Texas and Texas A&M will be the story for Sheffield's recruiting process. What some aren’t taking into consideration is that Sheffield, in addition to being a solid football player, is a more-than-qualified competitor in track and field. Sheffield is a star hurdler and sprinter, and competing in track during football's offseason could be a major factor in Sheffield's future plans.