By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
A.J. Jefferson does not cling to any delusions, but he does have high expectations.
Jefferson, who starred at North Pike High School in Summit, is one of eight defensive linemen in Mississippi State’s 2012 commitment class. There are 25 total players right now, so that’s nearly one-third of the group.
The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Jefferson is the latest commitment, having made his decision during an official visit last weekend. He said on Tuesday that he doesn’t mind being part of such a large defensive lineman class.
“All great SEC schools have got good defensive linemen and got good depth, so that’s something good,” he said.
Jefferson said all the linemen seem to get along, and he’s not afraid of the competition. MSU has a lot returning at that position next season, the most notable loss being Fletcher Cox, who left after his junior season to enter the NFL Draft.
So Jefferson, who plays end, loves the future possibilities and the chance to play alongside guys like Josh Boyd and Kaleb Eulls.
“Having the chance to play with them, that right there will be a big plus, having them teach me some of the stuff they know also,” he said. “I think we’ll be pretty good, have good depth and everything.”
One thing Jefferson understands is while he has a chance to play early, it might not happen. Only three members of last year’s signing class saw the field in 2011, including defensive linemen P.J. Jones and Preston Smith.
“I’ll probably come in there and stink the place up,” Jefferson said. “They’re not going to promise me anything. It’s all about my work ethic and how bad do I want it.”
Another member of this class, tackle Quay Evans, has cited defensive coordinator Chris Wilson as a big reason he likes MSU. Wilson’s also the defensive line coach, and Jefferson said Wilson had a big influence on his decision to play at State.
“He’s been real with me from day one,” said Jefferson. “He played college football. He talked to us about getting homesick, stuff like that.
“He knows that’s going to come, and he told us there’s going to be certain times we’re not going to want to do this, not going to want to do that. We’ve just got to stick it out, tough it out and keep on moving.”
Lelland Ducksworth, a linebacker from North Forrest High School in Hattiesburg, has withdrawn his commitment to MSU. The news was reported by Bulldawgs247.com on Tuesday.
Ducksworth was the lone linebacker in State’s 2012 commitment class, but the Bulldogs are hoping to land linebackers Beniquez Brown (Florence, Ala.) and Richie Brown (Long Beach).