There is very little doubt that Arkansas has improved itself as a football team since the program closed spring drills.
The Razorbacks have added the recently graduated Cameron Jefferson (6-6, 300) - a three-year starter at UNLV – to take over at left guard and also a linebacker in Josh Williams (6-2, 240).
Jefferson - who said Tuesday that he is set to arrive in Fayetteville on Aug. 2 – is not just your average pick-up, something Razorback head coach Bret Bielema noted at last week's SEC Media Days.
“Cameron was a junior captain,” Bielema said. “He's graduated from an undergrad before his senior year. He stands for everything that is right in college football. I'm going to bring him into the program because the people that I have to appease – more than anything – no media, no administrator, no fans, I have to appease our team.
“When you have somebody transferring in late in their career, they have to bring in a certain amount of value and a standard that we believe is core to who we are. Everybody is different, has their own philosophy. For me to have success, I need to bring in someone that I can say 'listen, this is what we are talking about, this is the standard we are trying to uphold. Can you match it.' That's how I go about our business.”
Jefferson – who started 37 games the past three seasons for Rebels at either guard or tackle - began to consider transferring out when UNLV was put on restrictions in April due to a low APR score – something that later ended up being overturned two months later by the school providing more input.
But since Jefferson – who went to high school in Las Vegas as well - was set to graduate early, he still had the option of transferring out.
“I was sitting in an airport and got an e-mail from one of my coaches that said 'hey, another school in our conference was having a player from UNLV on a campus visit because of the APR rule that allows seniors to transfer because of the lack of APR that sets this whole thing in place,” Bielema said.
“I contacted (Arkansas offensive coordinator) Jim Chaney. I said, 'Hey, just looking at our depth, what we need and what we are, they have a tight end, a couple of offensive linemen, a wide receiver? I think they have a middle linebacker, a safety. Take a peek.'
“Jim is great with personnel. He went through and said, 'Bret, the one guy I keep coming back to is Cameron Jefferson.' I haven't seen an ounce of clip of film on him. I'm going off an offensive coordinator and guys that know personnel.”
Jefferson's dad William played college football at Maryland and NFL football for the Browns, Raiders and Colts.
“I see him as a captain,” Bielema said. “I realize his dad had traveled from Maryland, played in Detroit, ended in Vegas. The kid was born and raised in Vegas. Wanted to play for his home team.
“I said 'let's take a swing at this guy, he seems to represent everything that embodies what I am looking for.' I get back to campus. I love his film. Seems to play with an attitude, boderline nasty. The way I think we have to play.”
Jefferson, who just got his psychology degree from UNLV and who will now pursue a master's in sports management at Arkansas, made a visit to Fayetteville and it appeared to be a match made in heaven.
“The kid came on campus and just loved what he saw,” Bielema said. “It was instant. I wanted him to meet every offensive player, sit down with (quarterback) Brandon Allen, our skill (guys), our offensive linemen. That brought us to the opportunity to offer him a scholarship.”
Jefferson jumped at the chance.
“Needless to say it wasn't a popular decision for him back at UNLV,” Bielema said. “The kid has done nothing but everything we have asked him to do and persevered and is an asset to our program.”
Bielema Believes Jefferson Is Key Addition
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