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Utah adds another playmaker in Shepherd

Utah added another standout athlete to its 2013 recruiting class as two-way threat X’avier Shepherd (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood) committed to head coach Kyle Whittingham and the Utes.

Shepherd said he was intrigued by Utah ever since he received an offer and went into his unofficial visit on Saturday with the thought that a commitment could happen, but the desire not to jump into anything unless he was fully prepared. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Shepherd pulled onto the Utah campus Saturday morning and it took the Utes coaching staff less than eight hours to earn a commitment.

“I kept telling myself, convincing myself that I had to make sure it was the right thing and not just being anxious about committing,” he said. “I took the information that I already had and put that together with what I saw on the visit and that helped me come to a conclusion.”

Shepherd said the first day of his visit was a whirlwind, but he enjoyed every bit of it. He was able to watch practice, tour the football facilities as well as the dorms and meet the coaches. It was his time with the coaches that might have been the most memorable.

“The coaching staff is amazing,” he said. “Being around them and the atmosphere there got me real excited about this whole situation. I’d been doing a lot of research on Utah since I got the offer and I liked what I saw. As I was digging deeper and getting more information, I realized it was a great opportunity for me. But I felt I should come down here and check it out myself, and I’m overly excited that I did. I know it’s a great opportunity for me at Utah and I can see myself here for the next four years.”

Shepherd added that he is very close to several incoming Utah players, including cornerback Alphonso Marsh and wide receiver Delshawn McClellon, which should make his transition away from home go smoothly.

As a junior, Shepherd caught 31 passes for 472 yards and six touchdowns, but his future on the football field isn’t quite set at this point. Shepherd Utah wide receivers coach Aaron Roderick spoke with him about playing on that side of the ball, but the defensive coaches would also like to utilize him in the secondary. But Shepherd, who could play both ways during his senior season, said he isn’t bothered at all by his future position.

“I’m looking forward to it, however it goes,” he said. “Whatever position I play, I know I’ll be playing for the Utes.”

Utah is coming off a terrific recruiting month of July, with six verbal commitments, and August is off to a positive start as well. Shepherd is commitment No. 12 for Utah's 2013 recruiting class.