Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Fast-rising Sheffield piling up offers
By Sam Khan Jr.
Sophomore cornerback Kendall Sheffield is already getting offers from some of the biggest programs in the country.
MISSOURI CITY, Texas -- When Cecil Sheffield returned a missed call and message from Missouri City (Texas) Thurgood Marshall head coach James Williams on March 7, he received some welcomed news. His son, 2015 cornerback prospect Kendall Sheffield, had been offered a scholarship by perennial Big 12 power Oklahoma.
It wasn't his son's first offer -- Baylor offered Kendall months earlier -- but having a second school in the race certainly put a smile on Cecil's face.
Fewer than 24 hours later, two more schools -- Texas A&M and LSU -- followed with offers extended within minutes of each other. That's when Cecil was really taken aback.
"It was kind of exciting," Cecil said. "I was at work and I got a message on the phone from Coach Williams. I called him back and he said 'Kendall just got an offer from Oklahoma.' And I said 'Really? That's great coach.' Then that next morning, it was A&M and then I mean, 30-40 minutes later, LSU. I mean, just boom, boom, boom and I was like 'Wow.'"
When Cecil delivered the news to his son, Kendall was shocked himself.
"I was surprised," said the 6-foot, 177-pound cornerback prospect. "I was happy and excited."
More offers will undoubtedly follow. Kendall Sheffield has interest from Texas and will visit the campus with his family on Saturday. Sheffield already took in Texas A&M junior day on March 2. He plans to hit Baylor this summer and LSU at some point as well. Alabama, Notre Dame and Oregon are also showing interest in the well-mannered, talented Sheffield.
In his first varsity season, the sophomore earned first-team all-district honors while playing for a Buffaloes squad that had the best season in school history, going 13-1 and making it to the Texas Class 4A Division II quarterfinals.
Sheffield had three interceptions in the 2012 season and is going to be a key piece of Marshall's future success.
"It's a lot of development right now," Williams said. "There's certain parts of his game that we work on to get better but overall, he's been playing for a while and he has the ability to be sudden and make plays out of nowhere. He just works hard and continues to get better and better and better. So this year, our goal for him is to put him in a position to make more plays."
Perhaps the biggest attraction, aside from his ability, is his size and speed. The 16-year-old has good size for his position and also is a track star. He has been participating in junior olympics competitions since he was 9 and currently runs hurdles and on a sprint relay team for Marshall, which also has a solid track program. Participating in both football and track at the college level isn't out of the question -- his 110-meter hurdles personal-best time of 14.09 seconds is No. 1 nationally among high school sophomores and fourth in all classes this outdoor season, according to Dyestat.com's national rankings.
"He's a very gifted, blessed young man," Williams said. "He's very athletic, but he's a great young man. He's a 'yes sir, no sir' guy. He does anything you ask him to do. He works his tail off. Great in the classroom. GPA is 3.5. He's a great person all around.
"As far as his ability, it doesn't take long to watch him on film to realize that he's pretty special."
For his part, Sheffield is enjoying the early recruiting attention, but understands he must continue to work. He enjoyed his trip to Aggieland, particularly watching the first spring practice.
"I liked it all," Sheffield said. "Seeing the practice, the new stadium they're building, the facilities, all the new things that they have planned.
"Practice [was my favorite part]. They had the music playing. All the players were making big plays and everything."
During the offseason, Sheffield said he's working to improve his footwork and hips. His work ethic comes from his home environment, where Cecil stresses the importance of punctuality and accountability, where 15 minutes early is on time and "on time" is late.
Seeing success on the track at an early age showed Kendall what could come of hard work and it's part of why he's in the position he's in now. Williams said Sheffield's learning curve upon joining the varsity squad was short.
"He was really, really special," Williams said. "It takes a while sometimes. When you get on varsity and the lights turn on, there's a growing curve, but his curve was so quick, so sudden and it was really good to see."
Sheffield enjoyed the 13 games that Marshall won but remembers most the one they didn't, the one that ended their season against Manor (Texas) High School on Dec. 8 in the Alamodome in San Antonio. It is what is driving him daily to become a better player, and that drive is helping to make him one of the most coveted 2015 prospects in Texas.
"I like to win," Sheffield said. "I don't like losing. It hurts a lot. I was hoping we'd go all the way but unfortunately came up short. We have to do it this year."