SR.com Top 25: TE D.C. Jefferson (No. 23)

ScarletReport.com's Top 25 countdown of the most important players heading into the 2010 season continues with a look at tight end D.C. Jefferson. A year ago he was in contention for the starting quarterback position. Now, he has the chance to be a breakout tight end and give the Scarlet Knights' offense a jolt.

Tight end was a position of omission in Rutgers' 2009 offense, but if D.C. Jefferson's development continues, he could turn into a dominating player in 2010.

With a full offseason to concentrate on tight end after spending his life as a quarterback, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Jefferson offers size, strength, athleticism and the opportunity to create wonderful mismatches for the defense.

Given the Scarlet Knights' need to develop options in the passing game coupled with Jefferson's physical gifts, he slots in at No. 23 of ScarletReport.com's Top 25 daily series on the most important players entering the 2010 season.

The only thing lacking in Jefferson's quest to become an all-Big East tight end is experience, but he has plenty to of it to reflect on after a head-spinning 2009 season.

Jefferson began August 2009 training camp as a quarterback, but as the season approached and the tight end depth didn't materialize as expected, a switch was made.

It was the first time Jefferson played anything but quarterback, and a few weeks later he was already being utilized despite not having the base or the background to be an effectively consistent blocker and pass catcher.

Still, there were moments where his natural talent flourished as he caught five passes for 108 yards in 12 games.

Rutgers' only proven tight end was Shamar Graves, whose eligibility expired after last season. An appeal was turned down, leaving Jefferson as the most accomplished tight end on the roster.

He is expected to team with red-shirt freshman Paul Carrezola and blocking specialist Evan Lampert in 2010, but Jefferson's playing time and visibility should rise if he continues to improve like he did in the offseason.

After the St. Petersburg Bowl, Jefferson went straight to work in the weight and film rooms. No longer a quarterback, Jefferson had to re-shape his body, and his mind. He now needs to be able to handle the physical play on the line of scrimmage, and know his routes, and that was a concentration point during the offseason.

Jefferson's biggest issue in 2009 was his blocking. Too often he was caught off-balance or with his hands on the outside of a lineman's shoulders, and the consequences came in missed blocks penalties.

But Jefferson embraced the need to block in the spring, and his improvement was noticeable.

With Rutgers' receivers needing to prove its depth, there is room for the tight end to make a big impact in the passing game. And Jefferson is not immune to the questions about whether the offensive line will be improved in run-blocking, and his development could make a big impact there as well.


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