For a long while, I wondered if it wouldn’t be better for Rickey Jefferson to pull on a different jersey in college than his big brother, no matter what other colors he wore. Just not purple-and-gold. For his sake and for his family’s sake.
For a long time, it seemed like a no-win situation for a kid brother to follow in the footsteps of an LSU quarterback who, at least in my time covering the Tigers, has easily been the most polarizing figure on the football field.
You know what, though? Rickey Jefferson turned it around with me with one unexpected – at least the timing of it – announcement on Sunday.
To Rickey Jefferson’s credit, and to his family, including big brother Jordan, this recruitment didn’t play out in the media or on message boards. It was quiet, understated and almost imperceptible on the radar.
As big names from around the state and around the country jumped on board with LSU’s 2013 recruiting class, some with splashy methods and dramatic declarations, Jefferson and his family quietly weighed options and stayed in touch with who they needed to.
The hope now is that LSU fans are as gracious with this young man and his family as he has been during the recruiting process.
I’ll quickly go to my stock line here: I absolutely love the passion of LSU fans. It’s what makes covering the Tigers so exhilarating and unique. Most of the time and by most of the fans, that passion is funneled in the absolute right direction.
Once in a while, there are a few vocal renegades – a very small minority – who loses grasp of reality for a bit and turned a little ugly.
|Rickey Jefferson: Deserves a chance to carve his own LSU niche.|
Rickey Jefferson deserves his shot. He deserves to come to LSU, carve his own niche and establish however he can be a contributing member of one of the country’s top football programs.
Whether Rickey Jefferson winds up as a cornerback or receiver, he’s going to have the chance to shine the next few years. Whether he does or not, though, there need not be any shadows to climb out of, expectations to steer clear of or standards to be aligned with.
Did I always agree with the way his big brother handled things after the bar fight incident? No, I did not.
Same goes for some of the stuff he said after the BCS National Championship Game loss, particularly the radio interview when he deflected blame everywhere but inward.
But I also don’t think Jordan Jefferson is a bad person at his core. Not by a long shot.
For the most part, he was always a quiet kid who handled himself well with the brightest an hottest of spotlights glaring on him. He carried himself with a confidence – which you want your quarterback to have – and showed the ability to pick himself up off the ground in very tough circumstances.
There were exceptions with Jordan Jefferson, of course, and understandably some of those stick in people’s minds. I get that.
Rickey Jefferson is a different person, though, and a different player. He deserves a chance to carve his own spot in LSU football history, whether it’s a dramatic splash or he winds up being just another face.
He took the first step, in my mind, by handling his recruitment with class and inconspicuously – not playing it out, one program against another.
Turns out I’m looking forward to the newest Jefferson after all.