Jefferson ready for big year

Biren Ealy is out. The UA receiver will miss considerable time. While losing your top receiver is always tough, one player is doing everything he can do to make up for the loss. Michael Jefferson looks poised to live up to the press he had coming out of high school.

Michael Jefferson was a prized recruit in the 2002 class. He and Ealy were supposed to form a receiving duo who could lead the Wildcats for four or five years.

That didn't happen.

Jefferson came in and had the growing pains that the majority of true freshmen do. The athletic ability was there, but he had a lot to learn. Fans got down on him a little bit, especially when Ealy saw the field as a true freshman.

He was in the rotation last season but was not an impact player until late. He started to come into his own only after Lance Relford was lost for the season and more reps came his way.

He started the final four games, but saved his best for last. Against ASU he had nine catches for 115 yard and a score. That one game accounted for more than half of his receptions, yards and scores for the season.

Things didn't really seem to click until the spring. Suddenly, he was a deep threat. No player performed better in the three spring scrimmages. The El Paso native made three big touchdown catches in scrimmages, including a pair in the spring game. He caught touchdowns of 39, 45 and 71 yards, and proved that me may be the team's big play threat.

"I'm just going to go out there and continue to do what I did during the spring and try to bring it over to the fall," Jefferson said. "Go out there and play hard and do what the coaches say and see what happens."

Jefferson did not want to let an opportunity slip and worked hard in the offseason to insure that the coaches could not ignore him. He spent all but a few weekends in town working out with the team.

"I was here all summer working out, as much as the whole team was," Jefferson said. "It is good to still be here in town and just get underway, get the season going."

He appears to be a top target in the early practices. He was getting a lot of balls thrown his way early on and that looks to continue as the season approaches. He is a big receiver and his already impressive speed is even better after the workouts. His hands are more consistent and a lot of people expect big things from him.

"I think this is Michael Jefferson's breakout year," said UA radio broadcaster Lamont Lovett. "I like what he's done."

The unit as a whole looks improved. Jefferson has a lot of confidence in all of his fellow receivers.

"We're solid from top to bottom," Jefferson explained. "Anybody, any night can have a breakout game. It's going to be pretty much even."

CAT TRACKS' ANALYSIS: Jefferson struggled in the past, but no more. He is picking up the offense and has really taken to coaching from new position coach Charlie Williams. He seems to have realized that his natural ability was not enough and has now added hard work to his abundant skills. I expect a big year from the sophomore.

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