Maryland Linebacker is An Enforcer in the Middle

Gwynn Park High School linebacker Wesley Jefferson wants a career in law enforcement one day and he's already a magnum force on the football field.

The 6-2, 230-pound senior calls Clinton, Md., home, but it's the football fields of the south Maryland and greater D.C. area that are his domain. Built in a classic middle linebacker mode, Jefferson patrols the line of scrimmage from sideline to sideline and rules with an iron fist. A high-caliber defensive weapon with serious knock-down power, he unloads in lethal fashion and leaves it to officials to sort through the parts.

"I hit a guy right in his chest area in one game and his helmet came flying off and the crowd went crazy," Jefferson said while recounting a few golden oldies from his legendary hit parade. "I hit him so hard at first I was afraid his head might have come off. I jumped up and said ‘oh man' and then I saw it was the helmet."

Jefferson's opinion is shared by The Insiders national recruiting director Jamie Newberg who offered the following opinion after critiquing Gwynn Park game film.

"He is regarded as one of the nation's best prospects and top linebackers for a reason," Newberg wrote. "He looks very good on film. The first thing that comes to mind is his ability to hit. Jefferson brings everything he has on every single play and has got to be one of the most feared tacklers in the country.  I mean he lays the wood every chance he has.  He is a true MIKE linebacker that will try and knock your head off on every play."

Gregarious off the gridiron, Jefferson is an equal opportunity destroyer in the arena of competition. He judicially, and happily, hands out punishment to opponents of all sizes."  

"Oh yeah there's another one I like," Jefferson said, his voice growing with excitement as he replayed the images through his mind. "A little quarterback had the ball and he dropped back to pass and I dropped back into coverage. He couldn't find anybody open so he takes off and I take off, and I hit him with my face mask right above the numbers. His head went back, he fumbled the ball and everybody went woooo!"

If you're getting the impression that a day without cracking helmets is like a day without orange juice for Jefferson, you're on the right track. If you think his skills might be limited to rearranging head gear you have taken a detour from the truth.

Jefferson is a highly-skilled student of the game who loves playing defense and knows terminating the opponent's progress with sudden impact is its essence. He's aware that the middle linebacker is a tone-setter and bell-ringer for the defense. He recognizes that a mike backer has to be both a head hunter and a head counter, that his seek-and-destroy mentality has to work his in harmony with his read-and-react responsibility. This duality of purpose requires total focus to function efficiently and Jefferson is finely-tuned machine.

"I'm focused on the field," he said. "That's how it is a lot of times I stay so focused I'm not aware of anything else. I can shut everything out but getting to the football."

As a junior Jefferson got to the football frequently amassing an amazing 163 tackles including 39 behind the line of scrimmage. He recorded 13 sacks, caused three fumbles, recovered three fumbles, intercepted a pair of passes and blocked two punts. In a tough playoff loss to Urbana High School last season, Jefferson made plays all over the field tallying 16 tackles and intercepting a pass before the final gun.

"Jefferson fights off blocks well, fills the hole and shows excellent pursuit," Newberg writes. "He has tremendous size, good speed and quickness."

Jefferson's lateral quickness is reflected in his outstanding 4.28 time in the 20-yard shuttle. He runs a very respectable 4.63 time in the 40 and bench presses 355 pounds. He has a vertical leap of 28.4 inches and can press 225 pounds an impressive 15 times.

An excellent student with a 3.2 grade point average, Jefferson is fully qualified which, combined with his football talent, puts him at the top of a lot of teams most-wanted list. At last count he had over 50 scholarship offers most from the nation's most prominent football powers.

"Everybody but Florida and Texas," Jefferson says. "I guess they don't need linebackers."

There are plenty of teams that are looking for an enforcer in the middle including: Tennessee, Syracuse, Penn State, Florida State, Miami, Maryland, Boston College, Michigan State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. Jefferson is considering all of these schools, but doesn't have a favorite to this point. He attended football camp at Maryland this summer and has scheduled a Dec. 13 visit to Miami. Otherwise he is wide open on his college future with the opportunity for early playing time being his lone qualifier.

"I can't really say what I'm looking for in a school," he said, "but I'll know when I see it."

Jefferson has played tailback and tight end during his high school career, but he prefers defense where it is more blessed to give than receive.

"I didn't play that much offense last year," he said. "I had one catch for a 30-yard touchdown. I really like playing defense. Probably my hitting ability is the thing that sets me apart. I play similar to LaVar Arrington. I admire him greatly and tried to model myself after him. I like to make everybody go woooo after I make a big tackle."

Jefferson plans to be a criminal justice major with the aim of one day joining the FBI. Of course, the FBI might have to stand in line behind the NFL.

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