Russell Shepard can return vs. WVU

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Suspended LSU receiver Russell Shepard will be eligible to return for the second-ranked Tigers' fourth game of the season at West Virginia, LSU announced on Thursday.

Shepard, a starter, was suspended indefinitely before LSU's season opener against Oregon for breaking an NCAA rule that bars discussing ongoing investigations with teammates.

The probe concerns the relationship scouting service provider and purported street agent Willie Lyles has had with LSU and a number of other schools. Shepard had been interviewed as part of the probe, then spoke about the interview with a teammate who was scheduled to meet with investigators on the same matter.

LSU applied for Shepard's reinstatement soon after he was suspended, but it was not clear how many games he would have to miss until the NCAA decided this week on the length of his absence.

LSU plays Saturday against Northwestern State and next week at Mississippi State before traveling to play the Mountaineers on Sept. 24.

Shepard had been allowed to practice during the suspension, and Les Miles has mentioned that Shepard was one of LSU's top performing receivers in preseason scrimmages.

Shepard started nine games last season. Despite inconsistent production, 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, Shepard has said he hopes to play a larger role as a receiver.