Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Rickey Jefferson getting ready
By Jamie Newberg ESPN Recruiting
DESTREHAN, La. -- John Jefferson has another son going through the recruiting process. After enduring it the first time with his eldest son, Jordan, the family hopes things will be easier this time.
"Rickey is ahead of the game and more familiarized with the recruiting process, especially watching his big brother go through it," John Jefferson said. "That in itself will really help him out."
The first time around, the Jeffersons were kind of taken aback by the entire process. Jordan was a quarterback prospect from Destrehan High School near New Orleans in 2008 who eventually signed with LSU. He has been a starter in Baton Rouge ever since and is now entering his senior season.
Like most big brothers, Jordan is wiser, having been there and done that. Now you have Rickey, a 5-11, 185-pound wide receiver prospect. When things heat up with recruiting, he will likely be one of the most coveted players from the Bayou State in the Class of 2013.
Having watched LSU QB Jordan (top left) go through the recruiting process, Rickey (right) has learned a thing or two about what to expect that he can maybe pass on one day to little brother Justin.
"The first thing I told Rickey is to handle your business on the field," Jordan said. "He's about to be a junior and two more years is a lot of time. So he needs to handle is business. Recruiting and schools come later.
"The second thing I told him is never to pick a school because of a coach. Pick a school because of the school and the program. Pick a school because you fit their scheme and their offense. Who's at that school and how quickly will you play? And you have to stay levelheaded. It's a lot of small things like that."
Rickey Jefferson is lucky to be in the position he's in because he has experience on his side between his father and Jordan. They are, after all, the two he looks up to the most.
"Jordan is the most special person I admire," Rickey said. "And I obviously look up to and love my father. They tell me to keep my head right, work hard and listen to my coaches. If I do those things then I know the sky's the limit."
Destrehan coach Chris Stroud has had nary a problem with John Jefferson's boys, and he's sure he knows why.
"One thing about the dad is he's such a great, stabilizing figure," Stroud said. "All three of the boys are so grounded. Jordan's now a leader and while he was here he was quiet. Rickey already has that. Athletically they are special and that's because of their work ethic, and they are all pretty humble."
Stroud coached Jordan and now has Rickey. He knows he has something special in this Jefferson. In their recent spring scrimmage Rickey totaled nearly 200 yards of offense. Last year as a 10th grader, Rickey was a vital part of the Destrehan offense and special teams.
"Rickey is so dynamic with the ball in his hands," Stroud said. "In one-on-one situations he's almost impossible to bring down. He's so tough to tackle and he has great vision. He has a unique ability to cut back and use those lanes.
"This is a kid that can catch and run and make big plays out of nothing. In our spring game he turned simple screen passes into big plays. The kid is fun to watch, no doubt."
If you haven't watched Rickey Jefferson, then you are missing something.
"When he gets the ball Rickey makes plays," Jordan Jefferson said. "They need more ways to get him the ball. When he gets it he's very explosive. I am kind of amazed that's my brother making those plays."
Stroud has seen big improvement from the last down in the fall through the end of spring practice.
"Yeah, he was special last year, but he has grown up and is now doing all the little things that a receiver needs to do much better," Stroud said. "But we have to remember he's only a sophomore. We forget that sometimes. The one thing I was really impressed with this spring was his blocking on the perimeter. He's gotten even more physical out there."
Rickey Jefferson is also a versatile talent.
"I love playing defense," Rickey said. "I can play corner or safety. I just love to hit. I can return kicks. As a receiver I just make plays on the ball and I make something happen. I can go get it and make plays by just blocking and doing my job. I watch a lot of tape. I watch others play. I just need to get the experience and watch others that are doing it."
Barring injury, Rickey will have a chance to really create a recruiting buzz for himself this fall. Not that he hasn't already, but a big junior season will set the table for him in terms of recruiting. This is a little different then what happened with Jordan. He became a hot name his final season at Destrehan.
"Jordan played little league football and was a quarterback, but we never pushed it," John Jefferson said. "He was a basketball player. If you would have told me 10 years ago that he would be an LSU quarterback I would have said no way. But he played QB and got hurt his junior year. He had to come back his senior season and that is when he got noticed. There were some teams that were skeptical because he hadn't played a whole year."
Jordan took unofficial visits to LSU, Auburn and Alabama but never an official visit outside the state of Louisiana. He was offered an LSU scholarship in Baton Rouge when visiting the Tigers by head coach Les Miles on Miles' birthday. He couldn't say no.
"We knew they were going to offer and we were hoping that Jordan wouldn't commit just yet," John Jefferson said. "We love Coach Miles and LSU, but we just wanted to make sure he was weighing all his options. But he wanted to commit.
"With Rickey, we have learned that he needs to see what's out there and weigh his options. LSU is a great, great program. But we learned a lot. You have to have trust in the coaches, and we know that recruiting is a game. It should have nothing to do with Jordan. Rickey has to learn the coaches and weigh his options. If he's offered by LSU and that's where he wants to go then that's great. But you never know. We hope he keeps other schools in mind."
Rickey probably will have a difficult decision to make, as all college football recruits do. Right now there are a handful of teams showing a lot of interest, including LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss and Pitt. He could follow his brother to Baton Rouge or possibly pave his own path elsewhere.
"Playing at LSU would be my dream, especially with Jordan there," Rickey Jefferson said. "But he won't be there when I get to college. I like a lot schools and want to explore what's out there. I would love to play in the SEC. I like Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn. I also like the Florida schools. I would love to camp at Alabama this summer."
The Jeffersons are ready for this recruiting go-around. And it may not be their last. Justin Jefferson is a quarterback who aspires to be the next Jordan Jefferson. He already has made a name for himself, winning the NFL's Punt, Pass and Kick contest two years ago.
"He's another quarterback that really knows the game already," John Jefferson said. "Justin loves the game and has been around it a lot. He has a chance to be really good. I have been blessed to have three really good athletes. Maybe one day it will be Justin's turn."
By then, the Jeffersons will really be ready for the recruiting process. Or as ready as anyone can be.
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.