What was expected to be one of the most talented and deep position groups heading into fall received a double dose of bad news this week.
The University of Utah learned that one of the gems from their 2013 recruiting class would not be making it to campus because of academic ineligibility. Wide receiver Xavier Shepherd failed to complete one class which will keep him from joining the team this Summer. The Lakewood High School product was the only representative of the University of Utah to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, an all-star game of sorts for graduating high school seniors.
Shepherd has a few options to choose from as far as completing the class and joining either his teammates on the hill or taking his talents to junior college. He could decide to greyshirt this season for the Utes and participate in spring ball. He would still have four years of eligibility including a redshirt season if necessary. If he wants to play right away, he could finish the course and attend a junior college this fall. Then he would be required to complete his Associate’s Degree before returning to a D-1 roster. That would also give other schools another chance to land the wide receiver. He would also likely spend two years of eligibility by playing his freshman and sophomore seasons.
I don’t think this news is all that devastating for Utah as long as they can keep Xavier in the program. I expected he would redshirt this season anyway given the talent already firmly planted in this position group. If they lose his talents altogether, it could have a significant impact down the road considering the Utes only signed two wide receivers this class, the other being JUCO transfer Andre Lewis.
On the heels of the Shepherd news, however, came word that wide receiver Quinton Pedroza had been dismissed from the team for rules violations. Pedroza is already said to be considering his options including transferring out of the program to Hawaii or SMU.
The Pedroza loss will impact depth at the position this season but, in the longterm, may be less significant than the Shepherd news should he never end up in Salt Lake City. Pedroza has exactly zero catches in his two seasons on the hill. His name has appeared and then disappeared on and off the depth chart from week to week. Now, this could have been the season that Pedroza emerged as a wide receiver threat but it’s impossible to say. His ability was never questioned but the content between his ears always seemed to be in doubt.
I would venture to say that if Pedroza’s loss is Brian Allen’s gain, than these developments may actually be a positive for the program as opposed to a negative. Allen has an NFL body as a redshirt freshman and should, in my opinion, get more targets. Certainly Kenneth Scott and Dres Anderson will dominate the catches over the next two seasons. Andre Lewis comes in with all of the hype of a big-time player who could demand some of Travis Wilson’s attention. Delshawn McClellon is another young receiver with speed and ball skills.
My point is that, although you hate to see players dismissed for breaking rules, or not ever making it to school because of academics, I don’t think you’ll notice their loss this season and maybe not ever.