Canadian defensive lineman & Ticats’ neg lister invited to Senior Bowl

Canadian Nathan Shepherd is heading to one of the biggest college showcase games in the U.S. but his CFL fate has already been determined.

The defensive tackle was invited to the Senior Bowl this week, the top U.S. all-star game for senior NFL draft prospects, after a solid senior season at Fort Hays State University, small mid-major school in Kansas. But his unusual football path has allowed the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to snag themselves an intriguing prospect.

Shepherd began his collegiate career at Simon Fraser University in 2012 but played just one season for the Clan before taking a break from football. Nonetheless, he was put into the 2015 CFL draft where he went unselected (not surprising given he hadn’t played in two years.)

But Shepherd enrolled at Fort Hays State in time for the 2015 season and after a solid sophomore year, Hamilton added him to the Ticats’ negotiation list in December – something they were able to do because he’d already been through the Canadian draft process.

The Ajax, Ontario native heads to the Senior Bowl as an intriguing small school player. He made 38 tackles, 12.5 for loss and four sacks, earning him Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Defensive Player of the Year and NCAA Division III All-American honours. He was a key piece on the Tigers team that went 11-0 and won its first MIAA Championship.

The six-foot-five, 300-pound defender ultimately played three seasons at Fort Hays State making 167 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. During nine games with Simon Fraser in 2012, Shepherd made 20 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and one interception.

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