After a year off in 2012, LSU football has a Jefferson back on the roster in 2013.
Rickey, the younger brother of Jordan, kept in all the family, choosing to make the familiar leap from Destrehan High School to LSU on National Signing Day. And, despite plenty of outside noise to the contrary during his recruitment, the newest Jefferson-turned-Tiger told TSD he never wavered in his commitment to LSU.
According to Rickey, the treatment of Jordan inside the program was vastly different, and ultimately more important to him, than any exterior criticism.
“Really I’m not the type to worry about what everybody else has to say,” said Jefferson. “At the end of the day everybody in this facility and at LSU took care of my brother, and I know that. People on the outside don’t know a thing, but people on the inside know what type of person my brother was. And that’s why they took care of him so much.”
The younger Jefferson even said Jordan encouraged him repeatedly to stick with his pledge to LSU and experience all the program had to offer. Rickey Jefferson did just that. Now, less than three weeks before the Tigers’ opener versus TCU, the true freshman has positioned himself for possible playing time at safety in LSU’s secondary.
How he got back there is another story entirely.
A wide receiver throughout his prep career, Jefferson seldom saw the other side of the ball at Destrehan, save when the team entered a special package with a phenomenal name.
“We had this package called SEAL Team 6,” Jefferson recalled with a smile. “It was when me and three other guys from offense came over and played defense. I caught a couple of picks and made a couple of plays off that. Ever since then I’ve really been fiending for that defensive side of the ball.”
It wasn’t until he began attending LSU’s Elite Camp during the summers that Jefferson realized defense could be his meal ticket on the collegiate level.
“I used to come here [LSU] at the camps and play DB at 1-on-1’s or 7-on-7’s, but I never was specifically a DB,” explained Jefferson. “I was always really a wide receiver.
“I first knew (the position change could happen) my sophomore summer going to my junior year. I came to the camp, and I was playing DB around then. I told my dad ‘I’m not leaving this camp without an offer.’ So I came here and handled my business. The last day, when we were about to leave, he [Les Miles] called me into his office and said they wanted to offer me a full scholarship. He said he could see me as one of those Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu types who does punt return and plays DB.”
One thing Jefferson knew was essential for him to successfully make the transition was tacking on a few pounds. With the help of strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffit, Jefferson said that was no problem.
“I was about 190 pounds when I left high school,” Jefferson continued. “But, after coming here and working out with Coach Moffitt, one of the best strength coaches in the country, he helped me out with all the protein and stuff like that – now I’m 200, maybe 205 pounds. It’s been real good. That’s the weight they want me at, and I feel comfortable there. I can move fast and still hit somebody when I have to.”
The move to defense has been “really smooth so far,” per Jefferson. It’s also helped that the coaches put Jefferson in the morning practice sessions during the opening week of Fall Camp. Whether a vote of confidence, a way for the veterans to teach him, or a combination of both, Jefferson feels the move will pay dividends in his ability to perform sooner than later.
“The coaches just want me to learn, be ready to play and try to get the schemes of the defense down as fast as I can so I’ll be ready,” said Jefferson. “My goals are just to contribute as much as I can and learn everything I can, pick up on things fast and make an impact. I want to be the aggressor and do what I have to do.”
Jefferson also welcomed the idea of playing down in the box in certain nickel and dime situations, likening it to what he did in high school on occasion and saying the Tiger coaches are considering the idea as well.
“I think I could be real aggressive (playing) in the box, rushing in there to get the quarterback and also doing everything I need to do in coverage whenever I have to drop back from the nickel position,” Jefferson acknowledged.
No matter how he’s used between the lines, Jefferson is comfortable donning the purple and gold and confident in his ability to help the Tigers out from day one.
And LSU, which needs an infusion of talented youth in the secondary, is all but certain to be happy it went barking back up the Jefferson family tree.
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