On campus, University of Memphis sophomore Mark Sherrod is a mostly unassuming sort
of guy. No flashy clothes, nothing special about the 2001 Jeep he drives and he rarely
garners a glimpse from students passing him on the way to class. "I am just a down-to-earth
guy," Sherrod will tell you.
But then there are the shoes. Purple ones, pink ones, blue ones, black ones. Open
his locker on the Park Avenue campus and any color of the rainbow might spring out.
Not that Sherrod, a striker on the U of M men’s soccer team, needs any added attention
while he is on the pitch. After being selected as a semifinalist for national Player
of the Year this past season, he will enter his junior year this fall as one of the
nation’s top players.
"If Mark was an American footballer, he couldn’t walk across campus," says U of M
men’s head soccer coach Richie Grant. "He would be absolutely mobbed."
|Mark Sherrod, who will be a junior this fall on the U of M soccer team, will enter
the season as one of the nation’s top players. Included in his arsenal is a wide array
of colorful cleats.
Sherrod finished the 2011 campaign tied for second in the nation in goals scored.
He broke the Tigers’ single-season record for putting the ball in the net with 19.
He was also C-USA Player of the Year, and earned the program’s second-only All-America
nod post season. Sherrod also earned five different national player-of-the-week recognitions,
including Disney Soccer/NSCAA Player of the Week for Oct. 10-16, and College Soccer News National Player of the Week for Oct. 24-30.
"The shoes, I guess they kind of make me flashy," said Sherrod of his cleats.
The civil engineering major joined U of M women soccer players Lizzy Simonin, Elise
Kuhar-Pitters and Christabel Oduro on All- American lists. Simonin, a senior, was
the only one to capture first team honors.
Dayton O’Brien, who prepped at Evangelical Christian School in Memphis, was the program’s
only other All-American, in 2005.
Sherrod came to Memphis by way of Carter High School in Knoxville. With a 6-3, 185-pound
frame, he has a distinct advantage over others.
"My size is a huge part of my success," he said. "I can out-jump others on offense
so it helps me with headers in the air. It also helps me barricade myself and hold
off other players when I have the ball.
"I also have the ability to use my right foot and my left foot equally," he added.
Which, Grant says, makes him unique.
"Mark can score with his left foot, he can score with his right foot. He can come
at you so many ways offensively," said Grant. "He is a sharp lad, too. He doesn’t
let the success go to his head, and is coping well with being a little more recognizable."
Sherrod had a breakout season this past year. He suffered through what he termed "a
horrible" season his freshman year, mustering just four goals on the season.
But this past year, he recorded back-to-back hat-tricks against Nebraska-Omaha and
Tulsa, and scored a goal against Bradley after losing one of his shoes. A video of
the goal would later go viral.
"I play every game as hard as I can," said Sherrod. "And I owe a lot to my teammates."
Sherrod said he was honored to be a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy, awarded to
the top college player by the Missouri Athletic Club.
"The Hermann Award is a little like the Heisman Trophy, so it was a great honor,"
So what does Sherrod plan for footwear the upcoming year?
"I just ordered a bright blue pair of Vapors," he said with a smile.— by Greg Russell