By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
Will Hester, the head coach of Ravenwood High in Brentwood, Tennessee, has been coaching for 17 seasons. And Van Jefferson, his senior standout wide receiver, is the best he has been around at running routes.
Jefferson (6-foot-2, 178 pounds) is one of the most highly regarded prospects in his state, and nation, being ranked as the 233rd best player in the nation, regardless of position, by Rivals.com.
Hester reminded that his senior has been brought up to be a very good receiver because his father Shawn played the position in the NFL for 12 years and currently coaching the Tennessee Titans wideouts.
“He understands the game as well as anybody I’ve ever been around,” Hester said. “He is like a coach on the field. He can come off after a series and we can discuss the types of looks that he’s getting and the type of leverage the defensive backs are playing with, and the plays that will best suit or take advantage of that.”
And the biggest pro for Jefferson, from Hester’s perspective, is what he’s done for the Raptors, who finished the 2014 season with a 15-1 mark.
“He has raised the competitiveness level of the practice field,” Hester said. “He hates to lose any reps in practice and it has helped the guys that go against him each day in practice compete at a high level. They have to give their best because they know he is going to in order to try and get a piece of him.”
Jefferson visited Oxford and Ole Miss this past weekend just before the dead period started. Hester talked to him about the visit, saying Jefferson enjoyed himself very much.
“He got to spend a lot of time with Laquon (Treadwell) and (Qunicy) Adeboyejo. Those were the two guys that really showed him around and he spoke very highly of them,” Hester said. “That was his second time back on campus. He was there in the spring or early summer of last year. He loves it down there.”
Tight ends coach Maurice Harris has been directly recruiting Jefferson and Hester had great things to say about the job that he’s done.
“Maurice is an unbelievable guy being a former head coach at Whitehaven High School. He understands all the issues of what our job is like dealing with kids like Van,” Hester said. “You couldn’t ask for a better guy to deal with than Maurice. He and Van have built a strong relationship and you can tell that Maurice lives his faith and the Jefferson family really likes that.”
The Raptors operate an offense that is very similar to what Ole Miss runs, a spread-option offense that features some power runs and what Hester calls “package plays” where he gives the quarterback the option to run or throw.
Jefferson is close to making a decision on where he wants to play. His final two choices are Ole Miss and Georgia. Jefferson is currently listed as a verbal pledge to the Bulldogs, and Hester said there is a lot his family likes about playing for coach Mark Richt.
Jefferson is going to be enrolled in school in January and he is set to play in the annual U.S. Army All-American game on Jan. 3. Classes at Georgia begin Jan. 5. Ole Miss is Jan. 21.
“I truly would say at this point, in my opinion guessing, it would be a coin toss between the two,” Hester said. “There are wonderful things his family likes about Georgia and there are wonderful things his family likes about Ole Miss. It’s really going to come down to splitting hairs for him and where he feels most comfortable and where he has built the best relationships. Hopefully we’ll all know in the next few days.”
Hester felt the added plus of Jefferson getting into school early and going through spring drills would allow him to play his first year.
“I think the added plus of him getting a semester early and get into a college weight program, I do believe because of his knowledge of coverage and ability to get off press coverage, will give him the ability to play early wherever he goes,” Hester said. “I think the extra time in the weight room with a college strength coach will help him be prepared for all of that.”