Normally I hear something like this and it goes in one ear,
passes through an intricately woven labyrinth of knowledge, and out the other.
My thinking is, if the kid is that good, I’ll be hearing a lot about him early
in his high school career, particularly if he’s on a side of town I’m dialed in
But, the name Kendall Sheffield stuck with me and I did a
bit of research on him upon first hearing about him. Normally there’s not much
to look into, but Sheffield was already a highly acclaimed track athlete so I
found some footage of him on Youtube blowing away the competition in the hurdles.
Here’s that footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBVNvpy5VuI
The speed was obviously noticeable, but at the end I got a
good look at his build and noticed he had the sinewy length you want in a
defensive back. I had a feeling I now knew what Chykie Brown looked like when
he was 13 years old.
So I wasn’t going to forget the name Kendall Sheffield, but
it turns out I could have and still heard about him early in high school
Coming off of a sophomore year in which he was all district
and then performed well at the Army All American combine, it was about time to
go a little more in-depth on a player I’ve only briefly mentioned on Inside
Texas in the past.
On Saturday at the combine I sat near Brian Perroni,
formerly of Rivals and currently of 247. After perusing the flock of prospects
I asked who #136 is. Perroni told me it was Kendall Sheffield and I said no
wonder I’m being told he’ll be a National Top 100 player and possible five star.
Perroni nodded and said he thought the same before adding that Sheffield’s
teammate JW Ketchum will be top 100 as well (more on Ketchum soon). Then
Perroni got on the phone and made sure one of his film guys conducted an
interview with Kendall. Feeling I was about to get out-Whataburgered (you know,
ordering a #1 while the person after you orders a #4 with Texas Toast in the
middle) I got on the phone with Kendall’s father, Cecil Sheffield.
In my brief research on the Sheffields, I heard they were
incredibly hard workers and I’m convinced a lot of that has to do with the
track background. There’s a reason I belabor the point that running track and
field is great preparation for football and not just because of the obvious
speed benefits. Kids that run track seriously, especially summer track, aren’t
afraid of hard work.
We’ll pick up the conversation with the track side of the
Eric Nahlin: The first highlights I ever saw of your son
were from the track a few years ago.
Cecil Sheffield: [laughing] Oh you saw those? He was young
then. He’s bigger and faster now.
EN: Yes he is. I saw him down there. He looks good; he’s
starting to fill out. What summer club do you guys run for?
CS: We run with CL Stars, Carl Lewis’ team.
EN: There’s some good defensive backs on that club. Maurice
Smith, Chris Hardeman, Kendall Sheffield.
CS: [laughing] You know those guys? We also have Leroy
EN: Cameron. Yep, Maurice and Chris are great guys with
great parents, plus they have the benefit of both of their fathers being
football guys. Did you play ball in college?
CS: I ran track at Sam Houston State. I still have a record
there. [he said this proudly, not boastingly]
EN: What event was that?
CS: The 55 meter indoor hurdles.
EN: Nice, so that’s where Kendall gets the hurdling from.
Like Maurice and Chris have coaches at home, so does Kendall.
CS: Yeah but Kendall’s better than I ever was.
EN: What’s next for Kendall on the track?
CS: He’ll be trying to qualify for the U-17 national team. I
think he’ll make it. Last year he ran 38.2 in the 300 meter and 14.4 in the 110
EN: Those are astounding times especially when you consider
he ran those as a freshman. And the speed translates to the field obviously. I
saw him run his 40 down there.
CS: What was his time?
EN: A guy from Scout (Greg Powers) had him at 4.36 and so
did my buddy who times and coaches these guys for a living. I’m not sure what
he ran electronically.
EN: Yep, well didn’t he run a 4.37 at an NUC camp last year?
CS: Yes I think so. I know he vertical jumped 38” today.
When we walked by the measuring device he said he was going to take it to the
top and he did on the first jump so they had to raise it.
EN: [I don’t know what I said here but it was the equivalent
CS: Yeah man. He can stand under the basket and dunk with
two hands without taking a step.
[We’re dealing with a freak athlete]
EN: He’s what, only 6’?
CS: He’s 5’11 or 6’, right in that range and about 175
EN: I hear all this athleticism translates to the football
side of things. Talk to me about football.
CS: He was first team all district and scored three total
touchdowns; one on a 90 yard kick return, one on a pick six and I’m not sure if
the other one was running or receiving. He had four interceptions on the year.
The coaches told me they’ll use him more on offense next year.
EN: I hear recruiting is starting to pick up. What are you
CS: Well the Tuesday after our playoff loss Coach
Applewhite, I know you know who that is, came by and said they want Kendall to
attend the junior day in February.
EN: Yeah I’ve heard of him, but wait, he wants Kendall to
visit in February?
CS: Yes, he came and got Kendall out of class, I didn’t know
they could do that [laughing], and told him they like him a lot and want him at
a junior day. I thought to myself, ‘he’s only a sophomore.’
EN: Oh yeah, he’s going to miss a lot of class with the
amount of coaches that will be pulling him out in the coming years. OU came and
grabbed Ogbo Okoronkwo (Alief Taylor defensive end) three separate times in the
same day by three different coaches. Well this is a big development. I knew
they’d be showing interest but not this much this soon. I figured they’d come
by in the spring, and bring him in for the summer camps. Did they say anything
about an offer?
CS: No not an offer yet, but I haven’t talked to Coach
Applewhite myself yet. He gave Kendall his card. Kendall was happy just to get
the card! I’ll call him once we get home from this and I knew they had a bowl
game they were preparing for.
EN: It sound like Kendall really likes Texas.
CS: He does and he also likes Alabama.
[5 minute conversation of what’s going on with the coaching
EN: What other schools are you hearing from?
CS: Baylor has offered, well they said they’re going to when
the coaches are allowed to come by the next time.
EN: Exciting times. What do you think Kendall needs to focus
on most as a player?
CS: People can always get better, and as long as he continues
to work he should be pretty complete. He’s starting to see if you work hard it
pays off. What he needs to focus on now is his footwork. The guys you mentioned,
Maurice and Chris, have real nice footwork. Kendall works with Maurice’s dad so
I think he’ll continue to improve.
EN: Sounds like the future’s bright. I appreciate the time
we’ll talk soon.
CS: Sounds good and we appreciate you.