Local Prospects Make Most Of Minicamp


Quarterback Grant Enders dropped back to pass and saw wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard running open to the end zone.

Just like the two Towson standouts had done so many times in college, Enders lofted a perfectly-thrown ball that Sheppard hauled in over a defender for the touchdown. It was the final play of Sunday's practice, bringing a conclusion to the three-day rookie minicamp.

"You always want to end strong," Sheppard said. "To come out and score on the last drive, it was great all across the board. Definitely a great way to end camp."

The play capped off a strong weekend for a group of local prospects who participated in the minicamp as undrafted free agents.

"It's good to see," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "They have done such a good job over there. [Towson Head] Coach [Rob] Ambrose has done such a great job, along with their staff, recruiting. I think their talent level is really at an all-time high… Enders and Sheppard looked really good in this camp. They are NFL-quality guys."

In addition to Sheppard and Enders, West Virginia offensive lineman Jeff Braun (Winters Mills), Penn outside linebacker Brandon Copeland (Gilman) and Maryland tight end Matt Furstenburg all participated in the minicamp. Enders was a tryout player, but the other four have been signed by the Ravens and are currently on the 90-man roster.

Bringing in some of the local players is part of the Ravens' effort to capitalize on talent in their own backyard. 

"Having recruited all those years in college, this is a hotbed of talent," Harbaugh said. "I think there are a lot of good football players that get plucked out of here every year or go down and play at Maryland. Yes, we like the local talent."

Braun and Copeland are two players who grew up in the Baltimore area, and then went on to play college football elsewhere. Now they're back in their hometown, and they made a positive impression in their first weekend of work.

"Braun and Copeland looked really good," Harbaugh said. "[They are] big, good, athletic guys, smart players, guys that can definitely make it in the NFL."

Sheppard, a graduate of McDonogh School in Owings Mills, is another player who grew up in the Baltimore area. He actually worked for the Ravens in the public relations department during high school as part of his senior project.

That experience gave him the chance to see the inner workings of the organization before he ever stepped onto the field as an NFL player.

"Your mindset has to switch over automatically from business in the office, to business on the field," Sheppard said. "I made a great transition from that. I let the PR stuff go right now and I'm obviously focusing on football."

As part of his senior project with the Ravens, Sheppard helped facilitate interviews and wrote about some of the rookies hoping to make the roster. Now he's in the same position as the players that he used to work with and write about.

"It's different to be in the offices and to be on the sideline watching the guys practice, to actually be wearing a Ravens helmet and wearing purple," Sheppard said. "It's a great feeling. Even back then, I dreamed of me being here where I am right now, and I'm just blessed for this opportunity."

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