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Ole Miss WR Van Jefferson grateful for his father’s help on and off the field

Ole Miss WR Van Jefferson grateful for his father’s help on and off the field

OXFORD – Wide receiver Van Jefferson continues to impress Ole Miss coaches, making a name for himself both in spring workouts and fall camp, and he now admits taking the redshirt option last season wasn’t so bad after all.

But that doesn’t mean it was easy for the 6-foot-2, 187-pound receiver out of Brentwood, Tennessee to adjust to watching from the sidelines.

I was pretty upset. I didn’t want to come in and redshirt. I wanted to make an instant impact, but that wasn’t God’s plan for me. So, I sat and waited patiently and this year I’m ready to go.

Van Jefferson on the decision to redshirt

And it took more than just a talk with Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze for Jefferson to decide to wait his turn. His father, former NFL wide receiver Shawn Jefferson, mentored his talented son on the difficult decision to redshirt and play behind receivers, such as Laquon Treadwell and Cody Core, who had spent a great deal of time learning the playbook.

But at one point, the former Brentwood High standout admitted he was not sure how helpful the decision to redshirt would be. However, he was fortunate to have the support of his family who helped him keep it all in perspective.

My mom was telling me to be patient; this is God’s plan for you. Just wait for it, and that’s what I did and now it’s all working for the better.

Van Jefferson

In the early days of fall camp, Jefferson has been getting reps with the first team, having opportunities to catch footballs from Rebels’ senior quarterback Chad Kelly. He has also been a tough receiver to stay in front of, according to his teammate Jalen Julius, who said Jefferson is “going to be a top receiver.”

Julius, a redshirt freshman defensive back out of Winter Garden, Florida continued by saying, “he’s just got great routes, great technique, and is patient.”

At Ole Miss Media Day, head coach Hugh Freeze echoed Julius’ comments, saying of Jefferson: “He’s the best route runner we have, as far as getting in and out of breaks, and his hands are very, very steady.”

That is certainly high praise considering the top-quality receivers on Ole Miss’ roster.

Jefferson put his redshirt season to very good use. He spent most of his time learning the playbook, getting comfortable with each route he’s supposed to run. He has spent tons of hours learning how to create separation coming out of the break and says “quick feet” are the key ingredient.

My dad always instilled in me the importance of quick feet. He also taught me it’s about reps and reps and more reps when you don’t want to rep any more. I have worked hard to get where I am now.

Van Jefferson on how his dad has helped him

Jefferson wants to prove he has the ability to be an elite receiver in the Southeastern Conference and feels his success from the spring has helped him move into more of a comfort zone. He has grown so comfortable with the offensive schemes that it doesn’t matter which cornerback goes up against him.

“I like to go against all of them,” he said following Thursday’s practice. “They are going to make me better.”

And whenever Jefferson needs any type of advice, he looks his father’s way, despite the fact the elder Jefferson is busy in his position as the wide receivers coach for the Miami Dolphins. After each accomplishment or hurdle he overcomes, Jefferson says he always takes some steps back to thank his father for the knowledge he believes is helping him earn his spot on the depth chart.

“I owe that to my father with him playing in the NFL and coaching some high-talented guys,” Jefferson said, when he was asked about his efficient route running. “When I was growing up, every day I was in the field with him going through drills and everything like that. God blessed me with some raw ability, and my father helped me hone it from an early age.”

Rebels will have an opportunity to see Jefferson in action when No. 12 Ole Miss takes on No. 4 Florida State at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on September 5. The game is set for 7:00 pm CT and will be televised on ESPN.

About The Author

Courtney Smith

Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men's basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.

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