Irish Are Back In the Mix

After being knocked out of Tony Jefferson's top group of schools, Notre Dame has jumped back in the mix for the standout safety prospect from Eastlake High School, Chula Vista, (Calif.).

Tony Jefferson (6-foot-0, 197-pounds) thought he was ready to move on with a list of five schools that did not include Notre Dame. But after a family discussion, the Irish have squeezed back into consideration.

"Notre Dame is definitely back in the mix," Jefferson responded when asked about his interest in Notre Dame. "I sat down with my family and it's set in stone that I'm going to take an official visit there. I want to get out there and see the program and see the way they run things over there.

"I had made a top five, but my relationship got better with the coaching staff there. I've been talking with Coach Brian Polian and coach Brown. Until recently I barely heard from coach Weis and that's changed. All of that made me open things up to them and I didn't think I could have Notre Dame out of my top-five.

"If you're going to go out of state you want to go somewhere that's important and special and I hear that Notre Dame is really special," he said. "They'll provide you with everything from football to academics. And they're not just going to take care of you for four years, but for forty years. Even if I make the NFL, I'll be able to use that degree afterwards. That's something I'm really looking hard into."

Jefferson will have his choice of big-time schools, and he realizes how fortunate he really is.

"USC is up there, UCLA, Georgia, Oklahoma and all these good schools make my decision tough," Jefferson explained. "I really never thought that I'd be in this situation. I always knew that I was a pretty good football player, and teammate, but I never really imagined that I'd be in this situation. I've always enjoyed having role models, but I never thought I'd be in a role model position.

"Not many high school kids get the kind of exposure that I'm getting. I'm really happy about everything, but I still try to stay humble and my team comes first. I'm thankful to all the people who support me, because this hasn't been all about me; it's been family, God, and friends, so I still put them first. With all the recruiting and the schools coming in, I still put my team first. I still have a goal with my team to win the CIF.

"I bring the wood," Jefferson said of his tenacity on the field. "I was always known as the hardest hitter when I was little. My dad and older brother would antagonize me and kept on me to hit hard. I can also cover. I bring excitement to the team and get everyone pumped up."

Shortly after his last game, Jefferson will attempt to make a quick transition to college life.

"I'm graduating in December," Tony said. "Sometime during the summer I'll narrow my list down to a top-10 and then during my football season I'll get it down to a top-five. Then sometime in November I'll make my decision.

"My decision to graduate early is so that I can get to school, adapt early and get acclimated to the playbook, the coaches and how everything works. If you want to play early, it's up to you on how you handle that. Every true freshman wants to play, but it's up to them to make it happen. I've been working really hard in the weight room. I'm just trying to be prepared for the college lifestyle, so when the time comes I'll be ready to compete." Top Stories