July 10, 2017
Former Cypress Ridge High School standout quarterback Russell Shepard and his mother, Nikki, stand beside one of the dump trucks owned by his family business, Shep Boys Trucking Co. (Photo courtesy Point & Click Photography)
July 10, 2017—Cypress Ridge High School alum Russell Shepard spent his illustrious high school football career making a name for himself. Now, the NFL receiver is making sure his name lives on in the Cypress community.
Following his first NFL season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the former Ram and LSU Tiger spent the 2014 offseason making a plan for his future beyond football.
Carolina Panthers receiver Russell Shepard sits in front of a shrine in his honor during a January interview at Cypress Ridge High School.
“Everybody talks about how the NFL stands for ‘Not For Long.’ I was getting married the next summer and wanted to save money and have some type of investments. Before my grandfather died, he owned his own dump truck and took care of the family off of one truck. My dad has always worked in dump trucks his whole life but never had the financing to get his own. So I bought a truck.”
Shep Boys Trucking Co. was born, as Shepard’s father, Russell Sr., helped him fix up the vehicle and used it to distribute or collect materials such as dirt, gravel, concrete and grass for home development projects.
“We put about $25 grand into that first truck, and made our money back in four months,” Shepard said. “Whatever you need to get picked up, we can pick it up.”
The following offseason, in 2015, Shepard purchased two more trucks. In 2016, he bought another to expand the small but thriving family business. The company added citywide contracts, and Russell Sr. took over the field management side while Shepard’s mother, Nikki, assumed finance and HR duties.
Russell Shepard meets current Ram football players during a spring visit to his alma mater, Cypress Ridge High School.
“It’s been a beautiful thing for my family,” Shepard said. “It was kind of a thank you from me to them. It’s a huge blessing to help them out.”
Shepard’s footprint continues to impact the community. He and his family made their permanent home in Cypress Creek Lakes, not far from the Cy-Fair FCU Stadium where he dazzled crowds in his No. 10 Rams jersey. As a senior in 2008, he rushed for 1,946 yards and 28 touchdowns and threw for 1,843 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“Every day I tell my son, you must break all my records,” he said. “That’s part of why I wanted to stay where I stay, why I look to start businesses and invest in the area. From the Berry Center, to Cy Ridge to the Cypress community, they’ve done nothing but good things to my family.”
Shepard was a fixture at his alma mater throughout the 2017 offseason, visiting Ram student athletes for events including National Signing Day in February.
Russell Shepard, third from left, congratulates Ram football players during a 2017 National Signing Day celebration in February at his alma mater, Cypress Ridge High School.
He was coming off of his best NFL season after three years of mostly special teams work, hauling in 23 receptions for 341 yards and two touchdowns.
“I was kind of an underground guy, a special teams guy, a blocking receiver,” Shepard said. “But because of injuries, my hard work and patience, I had an opportunity to contribute offensively. I had enough practice from high school and college; I know how to work with the ball in my hand. I just had to be patient and wait for my time. That’s what the NFL is about.”
Shepard’s time is now. The Carolina Panthers took notice of his skills and signed the multi-skilled free agent to a three-year deal in March. But whether he’s playing in Tampa or Charlotte, Shepard still calls Cypress home.
“I’ve got a lot of exciting things planned for this area, for this school and for the future,” he said. “It’s been a dream of mine to come back and give to those who helped me out, to those who look up to me. I’m excited to be here and contribute to the area.”