Cincinnati CB Ja’Quan Sheppard Breaks Down Transfer to Maryland

Maryland is busy over the weekend working on its final group of portal and high school targets with the early signing period approaching, but the staff was able to secure its first portal commitment of the offseason when former Cincinnati cornerback Ja’Quan Sheppard went public.

After nearly entering the transfer portal last offseason, Sheppard admitted the decision to leave Cincinnati was one he didn’t take lightly. “I use it as a family benefit, understanding that I haven’t been able to see my family in like four years. Something happened in my family and it made me realize I need to be closer to my family. That’s my number one thing for me. I couldn’t keep missing out. Then the coaching situation was the go-ahead, it had a role on me leaving.” Sheppard immediately become one of the more coveted defensive backs in the portal, but  the Florida native announced a top two of Maryland and UCF just days before and had plans to check out the Knights. Those plans quickly changed when Sheppard arrived in College Park on December 9.

“When I got there, everything was smooth and I had family there so it was an easy decision. It wasn’t hard to mentally lock in. It was just a matter of the situation. My mom is up there so I had to make the move, so it ended up being a really easy decision,” Sheppard told Inside the Black and Gold. “The visit was lit. It was cold as hell, but it was lit for the most part. They showed me a good time and it was everything that I was looking for.”

Cornerbacks coach Henry Baker is driving his recruitment and with the whole staff prioritizing him during the visit, Sheppard noticed the smooth transition from Cincinnati to Maryland. “I kind of clicked with him from the start. I was honest with him and I felt he was being truthful with me the whole time. He never just told me something that I wanted to hear. Obviously my number one question and concern was everybody being real with me and everybody gave me a fair chance. He said they need competitors because they’re losing two people.”

With cornerback Tarheeb Still hosting him on the visit, Sheppard also got a chance to reconnect with a pair of familiar faces. “I played 7-on-7 with Jeshaun and Fa’Najae so boys being South Florida guys, there’s a couple Florida guys on the team and I clicked with them real good.”

Sheppard was a frequent contributor in the Bearcats secondary having played 37 games in four seasons. After Sauce Gardner moved onto the NFL, Sheppard stepped into a starting role where he finished with 50 tackles and ten pass deflections this past season. “It was hard for me to leave Cincinnati because I love this city and I love playing for the Bearcats, but it was an easy decision if that makes sense.”

After watching tape of Maryland’s defense, Sheppard envisioned a smooth transition to College Park. “I had seen their defensive scheme, I love it. It kind of plays to my favor because I’m super long, fast, physical so the defense that they run kind of plays into the corner’s favor.”

Sheppard will arrive in College Park this week and enroll in January, where he has one head of eligibility remaining.

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