Through the first eight games of 2007, Sherman was Stanford's leading receiver, with 36 catches for 635 yards. But in the ninth game, against Washington, he caught just two passes for 11 yards and was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct while covering a punt. Senior receiver Evan Moore challenged Sherman on the sideline to control his emotions, prompting a shoving match, and Harbaugh suspended Sherman for the following game. He caught just one pass for five yards the remainder of the season. "He and Harbaugh clashed more than once," says Kevin.
"You learn to harness some things in college—intensity, competitiveness—and Richard did a good job of that," says Harbaugh. "I have long and good memories of when we were together. With coaches and players, if you end up being friends, that's great. But it's far more important to me personally that we took care of his future."
Sherman redshirted 2008 because of a left-knee injury, fell down the depth chart and called home, wondering if he should transfer. "You're going to leave Stanford for some rinky-dink school just because you want to play football and don't get along with some coach?" Beverly asked, incredulous. "No. You go make it happen."
Harbaugh was in charge of the offense but delegated defensive duties, so Sherman texted the coach and asked to switch to cornerback, the position Carroll thought he should have been playing all along. "That call saved him," Kevin says, "because Richard didn't have to deal with Harbaugh anymore. They were out of each other's hair." In the winter of 2009, reporters asked Harbaugh about Sherman's new position.
His response: "Don't know if he'll be able to beat anybody out over there or not."