As one of the top players in talent rich California, Chula Vista Eastlake standout Tony Jefferson has the recruiting world at his feet. Major programs from across the country flock to the West year after year to try to harvest some of the Golden State's riches. Florida, Georgia, Penn State, Oklahoma, and Miami are among the out-of-state programs hot on Jefferson's trail. Closer to home, perennial powerhouse USC and upstart UCLA have also made the versatile youngster a priority. With such prestigious suitors giving chase, it'd be easy to be unfazed by new suitors joining the party, but that's not what happened when the Michigan Wolverines came calling recently.
"I talked to (Michigan) about a week ago," Jefferson recalled. "They called my coach. My coach told me to call them. I did and they gave me a scholarship, verbally, right there. They are going to send it (in writing) somehow I forgot how. I think fax or something."
"They said they are in need of a player like me," he continued. "They said that I could play early at whatever position they think that I could play….outside linebacker, safety, or even offense. They liked my physicaliness. That's what Michigan recruits."
Jefferson's top five has changed numerous times over the past few months, but his most recent incarnation was USC, Florida, Georgia, Penn State, and Oklahoma. If the talented youngster's comments about Michigan are any indication, there's a good chance that the Maize & Blue could make its way onto that list as well.
"I'm definitely going to visit Michigan on an official visit," Jefferson said. "I'm getting my officials ready. (The list of visits) is not really done yet, but I'm starting on it. I'm definitely going to visit Michigan."
That's a positive sign for a team that could legitimately utilize Jefferson's talents on either side of the ball. For his part, the 6-1, 200-pounder has no preference regarding where he lines up.
"Offensively, I think I'm a hard runner," he said. "You see me going through holes real hard instead of (doing) what a lot of backs do nowadays -- get to the hole and they try to put on a move. I just run through the hole and try to run through somebody. That's offensively. Defensively, I'm coming at you 100%. The ball carrier, whoever has got the ball, I'm coming at you."
As open as Jefferson is to Michigan and his other suitors not from the Left Coast, it won't be easy for any of them to lure him away from Pete Carroll's recruiting machine. One factor working in their favor, though, is Jefferson's dismissal of distance as an issue.
When asked if proximity would play even a small role, Jefferson said, "Naw it won't… not at all. I'll have to (move away) someday. It'll even be a good experience getting away from home. Of course, what child wouldn't miss their family or friends, but I'm a man about my stuff. If I need to go far away, if that is where it is, then that is where I've got to go."
That approach gives those chasing the Trojans a puncher's chance, with those receiving visits having the best shot. That makes the first few months of the football season crucial period for those teams. Jefferson's expedited timeline means he'll have to squeeze all five of his official visits into a very small period.
"I'm graduating early,' Jefferson reported. "I'm going to be a December graduate. I'm going to be in the Army All-American game. They want me to be the person to do the hat thing. I'm already going to be enrolled in the school by the time the game is. I'll probably already have my decision made by November or something."
Let the jockeying for official visits begin. One down, four to go.
GoBlueWolverine will have more on Jefferson in the weeks and months to come.