Darrius Shepherd used to dream of these kinds of moments.
The wide receiver/returner is now competing in training camp with the K.C. Chiefs in St. Joseph, Missouri as he hopes to grab the attention and trust of the team’s coaching staff in a very, very crowded battle for active roster spots at wide receiver. Yet even the challenge ahead of him is giving him a chance to live out a long-held dream, one he says reaches as far back as the second grade.
Shepherd grew up in the area and has been a lifelong Chiefs fan while growing to be an impressive player on his own. As a local star at Blue Springs High School, Shepherd went on to play collegiately at North Dakota State, which is where he wowed scouts for the Green Bay Packers enough to earn a post-draft look from them as a priority free agent in 2019.
Darrius Shepherd spoke about joining the Chiefs with reporters.
Earlier this offseason, the Chiefs came calling for Shepherd and the response was an obvious “yes” for the young receiver to try out for the team.
“When you’re in second grade and asked what you want to do when you grow up, it’s ‘Be a Kansas City Chiefs football player.’ That was kind of the dream up until until college and then I was like it doesn’t really matter where I go,” said Shepherd. “Then to get that phone call and find out there was an opportunity, I was super excited to come be a part of this.”
When asked about his own fandom, Shepherd says his own father was a “diehard” fan and that the pair would often try to mimic the Chiefs offensive stars.
“We’d watch games on Sunday and talk about the different guys throughout the year, whether it was Tony Gonzalez, Priest Holmes, Dante Hall, whoever. Just taking pieces of their game and try to go emulate it in the backyard.”
After catching passes from Aaron Rodgers for the last couple years, Shepherd, who is now 25 years old, has once again cashed in with the ability to work with Patrick Mahomes. When asked by reporters about the difference in former MVPs, Shepherd was quick to acknowledge his good fortune in being able to work with the best.
“I don’t think there’s much to adjust to,” said Shepherd when asked about catching passes from Mahomes. “They’re both top-level quarterbacks. They’re both competitors. It’s super exciting to play with those high-level guys. It makes it easier on receivers, too, to be a sponge and take up their knowledge. To be playing with them is really special.”
After signing in mid-June, Shepherd faces an uphill climb toward claiming an active roster spot, but it’s also possible the practice squad comes into play here, especially if the Chiefs like what they see in terms of his return potential. Last season, he had 11 kick returns for Green Bay for a total of 227 yards, good for an average of 20.6 yards/return.
Shepherd knows he faces long odds to make the team, but he also sounds very clear when asked what it’s going to take to give him his best shot. “I think I just need to show up each day, be consistent, handle my business and make plays when they come my way,” he says.