COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Van Jefferson’s gridiron path took an exit Saturday night but there’s still miles to go before it reaches its destination.
After playing in his prep finale for Ravenwood (Tenn.) High School, the No. 13-rated wide receiver in the Scout rankings for the 2015 class said he’s got to “just go back to the drawing board and take this loss with my teammates and just see what the road leads to.”
Jefferson’s last high-school game had its highlights but proved to be a heartbreaker for the Scout four-star prospect and his Raptors teammates as they fell 35-34 in overtime to Scout No. 13-ranked Maryville in the TSSAA Class 6A state championship.
“We came out on all cylinders; that was really great,” Jefferson said. “The second half that just wasn’t the story. They came out, they were more hyped than us, but you know we gave it a fight. I’m so proud of these guys, and I love them to death.”
Ravenwood hopped out to a 28-7 in the second quarter after Jefferson threw an 8-yard touchdown pass and then caught a 65-yarder for a house call the next time he touched the pigskin.
“We just executed and just stayed together,” he said. “We just couldn’t execute in the second half. They came out with a better second half. We didn’t do our job. Like I said, I’m proud of these guys and I love them.”
The U.S. Army All-American admitted the scores were career highlights.
“It’s my favorite, but we still lost the game,” said Jefferson, who finished with 142 total yards. “I wish we would have won it.”
Earlier in the week, Jefferson finished as a finalist for the Tennessee Titans TSSAA Class AAA Mr. Football Back of the Year. In 2014, the 6-foot-1, 181-pound pass-catcher had 61 receptions for 1155 yards with 12 touchdowns.
Jefferson cemented his legacy as one of the best athletes in Ravenwood history. The humble playmaker simply said he hopes he’s remembered as “someone who just worked hard and gave it his all. I give it all to God. I love these guys so much.”
The shift to rounding out his recruitment now commences. On Sunday, the Jefferson Family welcomed Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze into their home. The Georgia commit must decide what to do with this last week before the NCAA Dead Period hits and contact with college coaches is disallowed until he enrolls into the university he chooses in early January.
An official visit to Columbus, Oxford or Knoxville could be on the horizon.