Tuscaloosa, AL - Alabama assistant head coach, co-offensive coordinator, and wide receivers coach JaMarcus Shephard followed Kalen DeBoer from Seattle, Washington to Tuscaloosa, Alabama when DeBoer was hired by athletic director Greg Byrne. Originally, Shephard was going to be the wide receiver's coach and Ryan Grubb was going to be the offensive coordinator at Alabama. Those plans changed once Grubb took the same position with the Seattle Seahawks.

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That decision by Grubb paved the way for two promotions on the Crimson Tide Staff. Former tight end coach Nich Sheridan was promoted to co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, while Shephard was promoted to assistant head coach and co-offensive coordinator in addition to his role as the wide receiver's coach. Shephard was with DeBoer in Washington from 2022 to 2023.

Before his time at Washington, Shephard was at Purdue for five seasons as the wide receiver's coach. In 2018, he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator with the Boilermakers.

"Coach Shep" as players call him spent time in The Game with Ryan Fowler on Tuesday night, and he explained what he wants from his wide receivers.

Coach Shephard was extremely high-energy on Tuesday. He called his wide receivers at Washington 'takers.' What are takers?

"I considered receivers very passive in the way they play the position. There's a lot of folks across the country, they look at receivers and they see them as playing soft. That right there doesn't go over well with me. A coach told me 'Get your guys to play in your image.' I tried to be a tough player even at receiver, so I tell these guys all the time, 'Your mom is a receiver, your dad might be a receiver, your grandma, even your teachers might be receivers. They receive Amazon packages in the mail, it's very much passive.' Being a taker is aggressive. It's an aggressive lifestyle; it's how you go after the football, it's how you go after blocks, it's how you go after every single day on the football field.' Being a taker is much more descriptive of how I want these guys to play."

Coach Shephard talked about Freddy Soft. Who is he?

"He shows up every once in a blue moon. He sits on your shoulder. He shows up in everyone's life at some point. He sits on your shoulder and tells you 'Hey, don't get out of bed today. Go ahead and eat that snack.' Freddy Soft will tell you, 'Hey, you don't want to go to work today. Call in sick.' Freddy Soft sits on our players' shoulder and says "Hey, don't go hard. Take this rep off. Hey, it doesn't matter. Don't hit that guy. Don't take that hit. Don't do it. Matter of fact, take this play off.' Freddy Soft tells us all the things that we don't want to do. You have to fight Freddy Soft every single day because he'll talk to you every day."

What sold Shephard on Alabama?

"A big thing is you have to choose people. If you choose people, it typically won't disappoint you. A lot of people make decisions in life based on the salary or the titles. You make those decisions based on those things versus making them about the people you're going to be around. Kalen DeBoer is one of the best human beings I've been around in college football. The staff here, Nick Sheridan, and Coach Gillespie, meeting Coach Roach for the first time. These are amazing human beings, and that to me is what it's all about. It's about people more than anything else, but obviously the rich tradition at the University of Alabama. Certainly appreciate and respect everything Coach Saban has done here. At the end of the day, you come here and do something special here, you create a new legacy. Coach Saban left an immense legacy already here. You restart that whole thing. I know Alabama won plenty of championships before 2007, and so hopefully we can come out here and do the same types of things. Last but not least, my family is originally from Uniontown, so my family has been Alabama fans for a long time. They've always cherished this place, Tuscaloosa has always been a place they would come for a night out and things of that nature. So for me, it's somewhat of a homecoming to be here at Alabama."

Coach Shephard talked about having multiple titles at Alabama. What will his titles mean for his role at Alabama?

"We'll collectively gameplan and make sure that in third down, redzone, first down situations, making sure we're in the right calls. Additionally, being sure we're bringing fresh ideas to the table. that fit us. That is something that important, something that we've done over the last couple of years with Nick [Sheridan}, myself, and Coach Grubb when we're all together. We all did a good job of bringing fresh ideas to the table and breaking it down so it truly fits the identity of the offense that Coach DeBoer created. I will certainly be involved in every aspect of it in its entirety. Coach Sheridan and I will do our best to come up with the right game plan and make sure it's prepared and ready on Saturdays."

When asked directly about Washington transfer Germie Bernard, Coach Shephard highlighted his toughness.

"Germie is a pure receiver. He is somebody who understands receiver play to a high level. He knows how to get to his route location; he understands how to get leverage on defenders and win in those particular moments based on the leverage that he wants to create. Additionally, you're going to see a tough kid. If you watch the film, I've had plenty of referees come to me and say 'Hey, you have to watch No. 4. He's hitting the guys too hard, flipping a couple of guys upside down on their head blocking. He brings a mentality, and his knowledge of playing the position is going to be extremely helpful within the receiving core. The guys we had last year at the previous place, aided him and his adjustment to the offense and he'll do the same things and has been with the guys here. He's making sure all the guys understand the nuances that are required for us to be successful in this offense."

Shephard spoke highly of elite five-star wide receiver Ryan Williams.

"I think one of the best compliments I can give to Ryan is, I know he's been highly recruited, I know a lot of people have seen the skillsets and the football skillsets, but he is as elite as a human being as he is a football player. He's somebody that we felt each other's energy and knew that we could work well together. He's a sponge. He's somebody that is focused, he wants more, he wants to be coached at a high level. He's not a prima donna who's going to be frustrated when I have tough coaching for the guy. It's super rare for a kid who's 16 or 17 years old, and he's super young. A lot of people don't realize how young the kid is. Look your 16-year-old in the eyes right now and tell me how you think he would come into a program like Alabama and have success. I think because of the skillset he has, he can have success early on. I truly believe that. He can be a sponge and be excited about playing the game that will allow him to be successful."

Austin Mack also provides a challenge and ability for the offense to grow.

"The familiarity helps a ton. Small details, get the motion right, get the shift right, making sure we're in the right formation. He sees and understands that. Some of our really high-level thinking ideas that he's been exposed to sitting behind Michael Penix Jr., he'll at least have some familiarity with those things. The great part is, he can throw the ball really well. He can operate it himself. I think the competition that is going to be created across our entire football team is going to push the envelope for us. You're going to have to learn at a pretty high level because there are other guys in the room who know the offense pretty well."

Alabama lost in the Rose Bowl and Washington lost in the National Championship to the same Michigan team. Does that unite and motivate the Alabama and Washington people on the staff?

"Absolutely. Without a doubt. No question about it. It's a collection of people who all experience the same thing, the agony of defeat late in the season. Now, that collection of people are together. Now we have a common bond among all of us that should push us to really want to achieve at the highest level."

Did you miss JaMarcus Shephard's interview with Ryan Fowler? Listen to it here!

Catch The Game with Ryan Fowler every weekday from 2-6 p.m. on Tide 100.9 and streaming on the Tide 100.9 app.

DeBoer Introduction as Alabama Football Head Coach

Photos from the introduction of new Alabama head coach Kalen DeBoer.

Gallery Credit: Simon Besnoy

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