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Sheppard completes college career on high note

University of Arkansas Razorbacks senior Malcolm Sheppard completed his college football career on a high note Jan. 2, helping lead the Razorbacks to a 20-17 overtime victory over the East Carolina University Pirates in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.

In the game, Sheppard, son of Ricky and Evelyn Sheppard of Bainbridge dropped an East Carolina runner for a loss, putting him firmly in third place in tackles for loss in Arkansas football history. Sheppard is also an All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) defensive tackle and nose guard, and he was a Bainbridge High School Bearcats defensive lineman.

He went into the game in a three-way tie with former Arkansas greats Wayne Martin and Jimmy Walker in tackles for loss with 37. He was 10th in the SEC in tackles for loss this season with 11.

In February, Sheppard, a team captain in the Liberty Bowl who is majoring in criminal justice and will graduate from Arkansas in the summer, will attend the annual National Football League (NFL) Combine in Indianapolis, Ind.

“I am looking forward to the combine,” Sheppard said. “Scouts from all the NFL teams will be there, and they will be testing 40-yard dash times, quickness and bench press weight. Right now I am 6-feet, 2-inches tall and my playing weight is 290 pounds.”

During his first two years with the Razorbacks, Sheppard played defensive end under coach Huston Nutt. His junior and senior years under coach Bobby Patrino, Sheppard has moved inside, playing both defensive tackle and nose guard.

It was ironic that Sheppard completed his college football playing career with a win over East Carolina.

“When I was a senior at Bainbridge High School, East Carolina was recruiting me pretty heavy,” he recalled. “I was ready to take my last official visit there when Arkansas called and I visited there instead.”

Sheppard, an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), says after football he might like to go into law enforcement or college coaching.

“I just want to go wherever God leads me,” he said.

One of Sheppard’s teammates at Arkansas has been his former Bearcats teammate Ray Dominquez, a starting Razorbacks offensive tackle.

“Ray is doing fine,” Sheppard said. “He has one more year of eligibility remaining. We went to Arkansas the same year, but he was redshirted as a freshman and I was not.”