Damario Jeffery: Unlimited potential
The 6'4", 220 pound Jeffery, who chose USC over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Southern Cal, Virginia Tech and others, is a consensus top five prospect in the state of South Carolina this year, and according to Columbia High Head Coach Kemper Amick, the Gamecocks have picked up a special caliber of player in his star pupil.
"He's going to do very well at South Carolina. He's a great player now, but you can only see him getting even better. His potential is unlimited," said Amick. "In today's game with all of the spread offenses, college coaches are looking for big guys that can play in space. I think that's what appeals to everybody about Damario. He's big, but he can also run like a DB. He's that player that's a mix between a DB and a linebacker, and that's not easy to find."
Aside from his obvious physical abilities, Amick believes that Jeffery possesses several other valuable traits that will help him be successful on the college level.
"He is a hard worker. That's one thing he does. He studies football, and he's a hard worker. He wants his teammates to be good, and he gets after them if they're not working. As talented as he is and as hard as he works, it's unlimited how good he can be," he said. "He's definitely a competitor too. That's definitely a good attribute. Most head coaches are looking for guys that are willing to compete, and Damario certainly does. You can't go wrong there."
Jeffery is ranked by Scout.com as the no. 10 weakside linebacker prospect in the country this recruiting cycle, but he plans to start his college career out at safety for the Gamecocks. In Amick's opinion, it's only a matter of time until the elite defender outgrows the secondary and becomes a full-fledged outside linebacker.
"I think he's going to go in, and they're going to give him a shot at safety. Myself, I see him ending up being a linebacker. He could be a huge fella. He's a slim build now, and he weighs 220. I could very easily see him weighing 240 after another year and a half. It depends on how big he wants to get and how big (South Carolina) wants him to get."
Jeffery has played a combination of linebacker, safety, wide receiver, and even back up quarterback for the Capitals during his high school career, and Amick said he's been an invaluable part of their success in recent years.
"He's just been a great player for us. He's played all over. He's so physically imposing, and he looks great in a uniform. I hope this year's even better," he said. "He had to miss his entire sophomore year because he had a knee injury. We were really worried last year coming in that he was going to be timid. But from day one, he was willing to sacrifice his body and was real aggressive and physical. His year just took care of itself from there. I think we were three games in (last fall) when I sent film down to Coach (David) Reaves at South Carolina, and immediately he called and offered him. That kind of speaks for itself."
While Jeffery may be an elite caliber of player on the field, he doesn't let that success go to his head off the field. According to Amick, he's simply a fun-loving young man and a first class individual away from football.
"I think Damario is a guy that likes to have a little fun. He likes to keep people on their toes. He's a good young man. All his friends respect him, and the kids gravitate to him. They want to be around him. He's not going to do anything crazy or get in any trouble. He's similar to Chris Payne and Mike Davis - he just does things right."
Jeffery recorded 109 tackles, five interceptions, five blocked punts, one blocked field goal, four sacks and four forced fumbles in his junior season last fall. He benches 275 pounds, squats 485 and has a 34-inch vertical jump. He becomes South Carolina's eleventh commitment in the 2009 recruiting class.
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