By Matthew Tabeek
"Finally getting to that point where we finally had it clicking on all cylinders, seeing all of our hard working from the personnel side coming together – and being in sync with this coaching staff in what exactly we’re looking for."
Shepley Heard was born into a football family – his father was a coach – and growing up, life in Muskogee, Oklahoma, revolved around one thing: the game. The idea of doing anything not associated with football seemed, well, unfathomable.
“I think about it all the time,” said Heard, a regional scout with the Atlanta Falcons. “It would eat at me daily not having something to work towards – that competitive side. … If I wasn’t in the football profession it would eat at me. It would be hard.”
Easy going and easy to talk to, Heard possesses another quality to go along with his love of football and competitiveness: he’s extremely inquisitive and curious. And those qualities have served him quite well as he enters his 13th year with the Falcons.
As you’d expect from the son of a coach, Heard loves to talk about the game and says he’s been “intrigued” with the player evaluation process ever since his playing days at the University of Central Oklahoma, the same school where his father once coached.
And just like any good scout would, Heard started asking visiting scouts lots of questions about their craft and what they looked for in players. Those dogged questions eventually led to answers on how to break into the profession.
“I just started from the bottom working at recruiting and got into being a grad assistant coach,” he said. “I was very fortunate to get on at Texas A&M.”
Heard also had good timing.
Working as a defensive graduate assistant and defensive quality control coach at A&M in 2004, Heard decided to grab a cup of coffee and just happened to bump into Taylor Morton, who’s now the director of player personnel for the Los Angeles Rams. The two struck up a conversation and, before long, Heard was asking more questions about scouting.
“Somehow, someway, like four or five months later, he just called me up out of the blue and said there was a scouting assistant position open with the Falcons,” Heard said. He interviewed in 2005, got the job and has been in Atlanta ever since.