NSD 2019: Capping off the Shepherd saga, 2020 Shadow Creek duo loved A&M visit
Texas A&M wrapped up one of its most successful recruiting classes in program history on Wednesday but a few optimistic Aggies fans may have been holding on to one last shred of hope that Javonne Shepherd might have made a surprise flip from Texas.
That ultimately didn’t end up happening, but according to him, he was still weighing his options right up until the early hours of National Signing Day.
“I had some second thoughts, but this morning at about 5 a.m., I called Coach [Tom] Herman and I told him I’m a Longhorn,” he said. “As soon as I get there, I’m going to work hard and get going.”
Those options don’t seem to have included the Aggies, as Shepherd said he was ready to move on from A&M earlier in the week.
“I talked with Coach [Lee] Grimes on Monday a little bit,” he said. “But it was just to let him know thanks and that I had a lot of respect for A&M.”
Many pointed to the news that, at the time, Jim Turner was named as likely to join the Cincinnati Bengals as their new offensive line coach as reason for him to cut the Aggies. Shepherd declined to speak about any specifics when it came to moving on from A&M only reiterating that he appreciated being recruited by the Aggies.
“Me and A&M had a real strong connection,” he said. “It was great to have them on my list and everything else, I’ve got nothing but respect for A&M.”
2020 Shadow Creek stars Alford, Bryant talk Aggies
Two of the state’s top 2020 prospects and Shadow Creek defensive playmakers, Alec Bryant and Xavion Alford, made the trip from Houston to College Station for A&M’s junior day Super Bowl party.
Alford left with a long-awaited offer but Bryant is still looking to add the Aggies to his list of more than 20 others. Prior to his visit to Aggieland, Bryant took a visit to TCU last weekend as well.
“I love TCU; I could see myself there,” Bryant said. “Of course, I like A&M. I’ve been there a couple of times now and I sat down with the defensive coordinator and the defensive ends coach, Jimbo [Fisher] and we had a good time talking about how things were shaping up for me and my offers.”
On Wednesday morning, Alford also picked up offers from Florida and Florida State. After the visit and offer from A&M, he added one the following Monday from Texas.
“[Florida] has been recruiting me for a little bit, but they had some coaching changes,” he said. “Coach [Charlton] Warren went to Georgia, but me and Coach [Torrian] Gray talked last night and we’re building a relationship.”
Both prospects are visiting LSU February 16. Alford will be at Texas the next day for a visit and Bryant will make a trip to Oregon on March 1.
Alford’s visit to A&M for the Super Bowl was his second in three weeks. Although other teams continue to jump in on his recruitment, he said he’s not losing perspective on the experiences he’s had in College Station to start his spring.
“It was a culture thing; everybody is a family up there,” he said of A&M. “The Aggie Network is one of the biggest - if not the biggest - in the country, so it was good to be able to go up there and enjoy everything and leave with the offer. It was great.”
Bryant added that a conversation with the Aggies coaches kept him at ease with their relationship, even though he’s still looking to be offered.
“I’m going to keep going, keep grinding, and hopefully come down with an offer pretty soon,” he said. “I’m not going to say I was disappointed to not get the offer. I know it’s a big school so I can’t rush the process, so hopefully I get it. I was just happy to be there and got invited to come out.”
Quick notes from Shadow Creek
The Sharks also saw two players apiece sign with Houston and North Texas. Recent commit, offensive lineman Cam’Ron Johnson and longtime commit, Ronald Nunnery both sent in their letters to the Cougars.
“[Offensive line coach] Brandon (Jones) was recruiting me at [Texas] Tech,” Johnson said. “So it feels good to be out there with a familiar face and I know that we’re going to do great things, so I can’t wait to be a part of that program.”
Nunnery was happy to be part of the group of local players that were asked to remain in the class under the start of the Dana Holgorsen era.
“I feel like we’re going to do great things next year,” he said. “We have a new head coach and he’s a great head coach. I think that we’re going to win a lot of games. It’s a business; he wants to win a lot of games and I want to win too. I think there is going to be a great opportunity for me to come in early and get some work.”
As North Texas has seen its profile rise as a Group of Five program over the last several seasons, the Mean Green hope the receiver/cornerback duo of Kealon Jackson and Jevin Murray help the success continue.
Jackson, a speedy slot receiver, wasn’t alarmed by the departure of offensive coordinator Graham Harrell to take on the same position at USC.
“He was actually the one that recruited me,” he said. “I still know that I’m going to be in good hands and get the chance to play early. The offense is still going to be run through Coach [Seth] Littrell, so I think it’s going to be the same up there.
Jackson will room with Murray and has every expectation that the team will continue to stack up wins.
“Coach Littrell is with us right now and that’s all that matters,” he said. “I just went on my official visit there this past weekend and I just loved it. The whole team out there is nothing but good dudes.”