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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 11 2012

Shepherd set to return for Bison

FARGO – It was late in the game against Indiana State when North Dakota State safety Bryan Shepherd hit the Gate City Bank Field turf in an odd manner. It was later that night when things got serious.

With the pain becoming too much to bear, teammate Grant Olson drove Shepherd to a hospital emergency room. A lacerated kidney sidelined him the rest of the regular season and the first two games in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

“It was a really crazy fluke injury,” Shepherd said. “You love the game but sometimes the game doesn’t love you back. It’s part of football.”

But the junior returned to the practice field this week and pending a final clearance in a doctor’s visit today, is expected to play Friday night in the semifinal against Georgia Southern. When it comes to defense, NDSU will take all the depth it can find, especially against a fast triple option team like the Eagles.

The Bison are already without standout safety Colten Heagle and starting noseguard Leevon Perry because of ACL injuries.

“I feel good, I have fresh legs and I’m ready to go,” Shepherd said.

The converted cornerback, who moved to safety in fall camp, took over the starting strong safety spot when Heagle went down in the Colorado State game. He was productive with 22 tackles, with most coming in his four starts.

Senior Bobby Ollman moved back from backup outside linebacker in Shepherd’s absence while Shepherd did nothing but stand around and watch. It was two months of no physical activity.

He was cleared for running and weight lifting last week and has been working with the NDSU strength and conditioning staff.

“I just want to get out there in any way, special teams or anything,” Shepherd said. “Actually, I have to feel pretty blessed. To get a chance to play deep in the playoffs, I’m just so blessed.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia