Russell Shepard suspended for opener

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU receiver Russell Shepard has been suspended for the opener against Oregon on Sept. 3 and is expected to miss a number of games while the university seeks his reinstatement.

LSU, which announced the suspension Thursday, said Shepard violated university and NCAA codes by discussing an NCAA inquiry with a teammate who was scheduled to be interviewed about the same matter.

The inquiry involves the NCAA's probe of LSU's relationship with scouting service owner and purported street agent Willie Lyles, a person familiar with the situation said. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because LSU has not announced what the inquiry entailed.

The NCAA has been looking into Lyles' dealings with a number of college programs, including Oregon.

LSU has acknowledged doing business with Lyles' Complete Scouting Services but has said it only purchased videos and notes on junior college and high school prospects, which is permitted by the NCAA.

LSU said it paid $6,000 for the materials last December and has cooperated with the NCAA probe.

Shepard will be allowed to continue practicing with the team while awaiting re-instatement, but it was not clear how many games he would be forced to miss.

"I can only tell you that the things that were done there were innocent. They were issues of protocol, but they're serious enough for him to have been ruled ineligible," LSU coach Les Miles said. "We'll seek reinstatement and hope that goes well."

Miles said he hoped he would have more specifics on the reinstatement process in the next 10 days to two weeks and said freshman receiver Odell Beckham was likely to see more work with the first team in the meantime.

Shepard was expected to start at wide receiver this season and even participated in a scrimmage on Tuesday, after which Miles said Shepard was one of the top performing receivers that day.

Shepard started nine games last season and, although he was inconsistent, he demonstrated the speed and ability to be a big-play threat as a runner or receiver.

He finished 2010 with 226 yards and two touchdowns rushing and 254 yards and one touchdown receiving. His scoring plays included a 50-yard run against North Carolina and a 30-yarder against Vanderbilt.

Shepard arrived at LSU hoping to play quarterback but switched to receiver his sophomore season. He was effective on end-around runs and his background as a high school quarterback gave LSU the threat of switching to the wildcat formation.

This season, however, Shepard had hoped to play a larger role as a receiver, spending much of the summer working out with LSU quarterbacks and catching hundreds of balls.

"I had some great plays last year in some pivotal games, but the thing that I want to do this year, from a consistency standpoint, is to do it game in and game out," Shepard said recently.

Yet, it appears that all he'll be able to do for the first few games is watch.