D.C. - On course

Like being a student isn't hard enough. When redshirt freshman D.C. Jefferson isn't studying for his classes, the 6'6" 240 pound quarterback is in the midst of his transition from the scout team to learning the Rutgers offense.

D.C. Jefferson showed at Winter Haven High School in Florida that his size, speed and huge arm can make him a legitimate threat at quarterback.

The only questions at the moment are his ability to learn and run the Rutgers playbook.

"I think he's on course. This is a huge time now for him," said Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano on the progress of Jefferson. "He's going to run Rutgers' offense. Let's see how he does. Physically, he's got all the tools. He's a bright guy. But with all of those things you've still got to take the snap and do the deal. We've just got to see it happen now."

Now that Jefferson is seven practices into his first spring running the offense, he said that he is feeling more comfortable with the playbook.

"I'm learning, going day by day and just getting as much information as I can," Jefferson said.

"I've been looking forward to this [chance] for a long time. Now that I'm here, it's a little sped up to me and I just have to slow everything down and take care of that opportunity."

When asked to analyze his progress so far, Schiano said that he is not yet ready to pass judgment on Jefferson's progress with the playbook through spring practice.

"It's too early to tell [about his handle on the playbook]," he said. "We'll know better by the end of the spring and we still might not know then. But at least we'll see a better handle on it … I think the whole process of being here for a year and then when you get to actually do it, he's going to get better and better."

Jefferson said that this spring is different than the fall was because he no longer has Mike Teel to turn to for advice. With no Teel, Jefferson said that he looks more to the coaching staff for help than he did in the past.

"Being around Mike, whenever I had any situation, he always knew what to do and we're here now, we seem like we're on our own," he said. "We have the coaches, but it's different."

On the other hand, Jefferson said that the open quarterback battle, as opposed to Teel anchored into the starting role, has not changed his mindset in the least.

"I feel the same since day one," Jefferson said. "I want one thing since I've been here – just to play and be a part of the team so nothing has changed … I will take advantage [of more reps]. I get an opportunity to show myself and I try to take advantage of every moment. Everyone has to improve, but I just feel like I have to get comfortable, get everything down pat and just be ready."

A Teel-less quarterback corps has also given the chance for more experienced quarterbacks like seniors Domenic Natale and Jabu Lovelace to step into leadership roles.

With Lovelace still recovering from a leg injury, Natale is the big man on campus and the Michigan State transfer said that he's doing his best to help the younger quarterbacks absorb as much information as possible."

"He's doing well. He's doing the same thing we all are," Natale said. "We're getting stuff thrown at us. Sometimes it's a lot of stuff. And he's got to do the best he can mentally on and off the field. A guy as big and strong as he is will be fine mentally."

And despite the fact that Jefferson did not make the two-deep for the start of spring, Jefferson still feels like he has legitimate shot at hearing his name called at a renovated Rutgers Stadium when the Scarlet Knights open up against Cincinnati because of a comment that Schiano made early in the season.

"D.C. knows … that it's anybody's position, whoever earns it," Schiano said on the openness of the battle. "It's earned on the field, in the classroom and off the field in the way they live. All three factors get factored in.

"To be a quarterback is different than any other position on the field. They know it. It's a big responsibility. We've been fortunate to have one guy that's remained healthy and play a lot of football for us and now it's a changing of the guard."


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