Birthday: April 8, 1981
Strengths: Lito Sheppard has a knack for not only being around the ball, but knowing what to do once he gets there. A receiver in high school, Sheppard plays with a cool confidence and fierce competitiveness that fuel his limitless athleticism. It doesn’t hurt that he practices daily against two of the nation’s brightest up-and-coming receivers (Jabar Gaffney, Sheppard’s cousin, and Reche Caldwell).
The Gators have brought Sheppard along slowly and worked extensively to develop his mental approach to the game. And he drew raves last year for the strides he’s made since coming to Gainesville in 1999. Sheppard picked off an SEC-best six passes while leading the SEC in average punt return yardage (13.95). He returned both a punt and an interception for touchdowns (showcasing his big play ability), and had at least two picks that turned likely Florida losses into wins.
Perhaps the best athlete among the cornerbacks, Sheppard has even played some offense for Steve Spurrier, who loves to get the gamebreaker into as many aspects of the game as humanly possible.
Areas of concern: Sheppard’s still very raw. Physically, he has all the tools, but he lacks discipline. He’s also small, real small, which will be an even bigger concern on Sundays when he has to match up with bigger, more physical WR’s.
And sometimes, he’ll play small — Sheppard needs to improve both his tackling and his stamina. But again, he’s still young and the Gators have handled him with kid gloves. Sheppard likely has a higher ceiling that any other player in college football.
Is he sponge-worthy?: Sheppard is talented with a huge upside. Scouts have compared him to Deion Sanders because of his flair for making big plays in big games (ask Tennessee and Georgia what we mean). The guy is absolutely a marvelous talent, a threat on defense, as well as special teams, and possibly even on offense.
Sheppard could come out this year and be a top 15 pick, no question about it, but realistically, needs another year of seasoning on the college level. If he waits a year, he’ll be high on the Texans’ wish list for 2003.
Lito Sheppard Return to The War Room
The playmaker The St. Augustine Record profiles Floirida’s dynamic Lito Sheppard.
Florida’s Sheppard living up to great expectations Cox News Services profiles the slow but deliberate rise of Lito Sheppard.