Willamette Hires Sheppard as Offensive Coordinator for Football Team

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Brian Sheppard has been hired by Willamette University as the offensive coordinator for the Bearcat football team, Head Coach Glen Fowles announced today. Sheppard also will serve as the team’s quarterbacks coach.

Sheppard brings a level of enthusiasm and a commitment to teaching the game that impressed Fowles and the the search committee. Sheppard has worked with several exceptional offensive programs during his coaching career.

He has coached at the University of Tulsa, New Mexico State University and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

More recently, he served short stints at West Virginia Wesleyan University and Alderson-Broaddus College (W. Va.) as the offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and academic counselor. He was at West Virginia Wesleyan in the spring of 2011 and helped Alderson-Broaddus this past fall in developing a new team that will begin play during the 2012 season.

Sheppard, originally from Redmond, Wash., was motivated by the chance to help Willamette develop a new offense following the departure of former Head Coach Mark Speckman.

“It’s a great opportunity at Willamette … I just couldn’t pass it up,” Sheppard said. “I like the head coach and I like the situation. The infrastructure is there.”

Fowles also liked what he saw during Sheppard’s on-campus interview.
“I was impressed with the way he engaged our players during the teaching process, and how he effectively communicated how to get things done,” Fowles said regarding Sheppard’s interaction with players during his recent visit.

Athletic Director David Rigsby noticed the energy that Sheppard put into his interview.

“I am excited to welcome Brian to Willamette University and the Bearcat Athletic Department,” Rigsby said. “His enthusiasm for teaching and coaching students will be a wonderful fit for our staff.

“Brian is an outstanding student of the game of football and has been mentored by a significant number of great coaches at the college and professional level. I welcome the opportunity to have him teach our students -- on and off the field.”

Sheppard’s father, Mike Sheppard, has been an assistant coach in the National Football League for approximately 20 years. He coached quarterbacks for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. In addition, Brian Sheppard has worked with highly-regarded coaches during his years as a player and a coach.

Fowles said that he looked forward to working with Sheppard to combine their knowledge and strengths while creating a “Willamette Offense.”

“We both have the same basic philosophy of what an offense should do, just in different ways,” Fowles said. “We are committed to developing a highly-successful offense combining the best of what I know with the best of what Brian knows.

 “He’s got great ideas,” Fowles added. “He’s well organized, he’s a good teacher and he’s a good communicator.”

Sheppard played college football at Saddleback Junior College (Calif.), Southeastern Louisiana University and Baker University (Kan.).
He was a quarterback while attending Saddleback JC and was initially at quarterback when he went to Southeastern Louisiana. Instead he played mostly slot receiver after an exceptionally talented freshman was selected as the starting quarterback.

“That experience improved my leadership role,” Sheppard said, explaining that it forced him to focus on the team’s success. “It was a fun time.”

He played quarterback at Baker during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. He was a team captain both seasons and passed for 26 touchdowns.

After concluding his eligibility in the fall of 2005, Sheppard graduated from Baker in the spring of 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business.

Sheppard credits his playing days in college as well as his coaching experience with giving him a good understanding of how an offensive system should work.

“I’ve played quarterback. I’ve played wide receiver, I’ve also coached all of the positions on offense except the line,” Sheppard noted.

His playing experience at quarterback is particularly useful as the quarterbacks coach.

“You know what the guys are seeing,” Sheppard said. “You can talk to them in their language … ‘This is what I did.’

“Most of my experience is in getting the ball down the field in the passing game,” Sheppard said, adding that it was important to develop confidant quarterbacks and receivers. “When they have confidence, they can play faster.”

“He will coach the quarterbacks and bring new life to our passing game,” Fowles stated.

Sheppard looks forward to arriving on the Willamette campus.

“I was impressed by the quality of the people,” Sheppard said. “It seemed like wherever I went, they were quality people. It’s a well-run program. You always love it when you’re recruiting and you can sell a great product.”

Brian Sheppard is Willamette's new offensive coordinator.

Brian Sheppard is Willamette's new offensive coordinator.