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Washington Hires Purdue’s JaMarcus Shephard as WR Coach

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The Huskies have (once again) completed Kalen DeBoer’s staff

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 04 Illinois at Purdue Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Washington reportedly pulled off a coup today by hiring Purdue co-OC/WR coach JaMarcus Shephard as their new Wide Receivers coach. The potential move was first reported by Tom Dienhart of Purdue’s Rivals site and Dawgman has been able to confirm that Shephard accepted the position at Washington.

Edit 2:50p 1/13/22

The hire is now official as Shephard has been announced as the new WR coach, associate head coach, and passing game coordinator.

The 38-year old Shephard has shown to be one of the brightest young receiving coaches in the country over the past 5 years for the Boilermakers and has a strong resume of both recruiting and development.

In consecutive recruiting classes Shephard managed to bring in a 4-star recruit and turn them into a 1st team AP All-American. Rondale Moore ended up as the 49th overall pick in this past draft by the Arizona Cardinals after just 3 years in college. David Bell is currently #71 overall on PFF’s big board and so projected as an early 3rd round pick. WR Milton Wright also made honorable mention all-Big Ten this past season.

Prior to his stint at Purdue, Shephard was nearby at Washington State for one year under Mike Leach. Shephard left before they got to see the field but in the class which coincided with his departure the Cougars landed Jamire Calvin (their highest rated recruit since 2015) as well as Travell Harris.

In a somewhat ironic twist, before Shephard was at Washington State he was at Western Kentucky. That is the school from which Washington ultimately hired Junior Adams . There was technically one coach in between them so Adams didn’t directly replace Shephard there but now Shephard is replacing Adams at Washington. In college Shephard was a D3 All-American for DePauw University and is originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The Huskies managing to pull Shephard away from Purdue should help restore some confidence in DeBoer’s ability to identify and bring in talent that isn’t already part of his tree. Shephard is from Indiana and interviewed at Notre Dame after coming to Seattle to interview at UW. The Irish are reportedly hiring Baylor’s WR coach and we may never know the truth of whether Shephard chose UW over Notre Dame with both on the table or if Notre Dame chose their man over Shephard. I’m sure both sides will deny being the bridesmaid.

Regardless, things appear to have worked out greatly in UW’s favor. We’ll see what the final salary number is for Shephard and whether he earns a co-OC or passing game coordinator title along with WR coach. But there’s no question DeBoer must have sold Shephard on his vision for the offense to get him back to the Pacific Northwest.

The first job for Shephard will be to try to stabilize the current wide receivers room. Top 2022 recruit Germie Bernard decommitted from Washington last week and instead will head to Michigan State. It’s unfortunate that he wasn’t willing to sit down with Shephard and be sold on playing for a coach that just produced multiple All-Americans. Instead he’s chosen to play with his high school QB for a position coach that was coaching high school 2 years ago. But that’s water under the bridge now.

Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk have already declared their intentions to remain at Washington but then again so did Terrell Bynum before he ultimately transferred to USC. It’s not mandatory that a player post on Twitter or Instagram that they’re coming back but keeping the rest of Odunze, Tinae, Davis, and Jackson around as well would give the Huskies an extremely talented young core to build around with a premium position coach at the helm.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Washington look for another receiver or two, especially now that it appears Bernard is in fact headed to Michigan State. All of Purdue’s class of 2022 players signed in December so a direct flip seems unlikely but Washington will be scouring the transfer portal for adds that make sense. Arizona State transfer Junior Alexander seems to be an obvious candidate to join the Huskies as a local former 4-star who played his high school ball with QB Sam Huard and WR Jabez Tinae.

As it currently stands Washington has lost Bynum and Racanelli to the portal and only brought in Denzel Boston. Given that UW was light on receivers to begin with and play in an offense now that’s even more dependent on the tight end we can expect Shephard will want additional depth in the room.

Time will ultimately tell but as of right now it looks like the end result of Junior Adams heading to Oregon is that Washington lost Germie Bernard but otherwise upgraded at the WR coach spot and pocketed some cash from Adams’ buyout. It’s certainly possible that Bernard is a complete stud from day 1 but all in all things appear to have turned out about as well as possible considering UW had a position coach leave for their archrival.

Welcome to Seattle Coach Shephard and we’ll have on more on this news once it is officially announced by Washington.

EDIT 6:00p 1/12/22

According to Pete Thamel, Shephard is earning an associate head coach and passing game coordinator title in addition to serving as the WR coach. It is not a shock that Washington had to tack on some titles in order to lure Shephard to Seattle given that he was also the co-OC at Purdue. Given those additions I would expect that Shephard will wind up the 3rd highest paid assistant in between OC Ryan Grubb and OL coach Scott Huff. No matter what it seems clear that the 4 highest paid members of the staff will all be on the offensive side of the ball since co-DCs William Inge and Chuck Morrell are each set to make $550k and Huff is at $700k.