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Congratulations, Malcolm

Congratulations to former Bainbridge High School Bearcat and University of Arkansas Razorback All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) defensive end Malcolm Sheppard, who signed a free agent contract with the National Football League Houston Texans this weekend.

There is a story on the signing, complete with comments from Malcolm and highlights of his Arkansas career, appearing elsewhere in today’s sports section.

What I want to concentrate on now is Malcolm’s great character and work ethic. My good friend Roy Mathews, Malcolm’s position coach with the Bearcats, said that he is as hard a working player and as fine a young man as he has ever worked with.

The son of Ricky and Evelyn Sheppard, Malcolm’s brother, Ricky Jr., a former Bearcats linebacker, is serving his country in the U.S. Navy in Japan, and his younger brother, Nicholas, a former Bearcat receiver, is playing with the Albany State University Rams.

Malcolm is one of the highest character young men I have ever been around. I was talking with former Bearcats head coach Greg Guy, Malcolm’s BHS coach, and he told me that he had seen Malcolm and told him how proud he was of him.

Covering outstanding athletes and young men like Malcolm is one of the true pleasures of my job.

Seeing them excel at the high school and college level, then have the same opportunity at the professional level, is gratifying.

Malcolm and James Butler, another former Bearcat who played with the Super Bowl XLII champion New York Giants, and is now with the St. Louis Rams, seem a lot alike. Both are humble young men who are grounded in faith and have great character.

James, son of the Rev. James Butler Sr. and Nadine Butler of Climax and an All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) defensive back with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, led the Giants defense in tackles with nine during their 17-14 victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix, Ariz.

The opportunity to cover high character young men like Malcolm, his U.S. Navy serving brother Ricky Jr., and James strengthens my faith in the younger generation.

In general, I believe our young people are just as good as they always were and I consider it an honor to be able to cover their lives in the local athletic venues.

Athletics, band and other extracurricular activities are good for young students. They teach them valuable life values like character and a strong work ethic.

I congratulate Malcolm and I wish him the best as he reports to the Texans. I know his great character and work ethic will serve him well.