Last season, Jeffery collected just 11 receptions in 13 games for 112 yards, including a meaningless 15-yard TD against Baylor. Yet, he blocked a punt in Texas critical 17-14 win at Kansas State and earlier against Tulane. As a freshman, he blocked a punt against New Mexico State that Phillip Geiggar recovered in the endzone for the first score of the 2001 season. Recall, also, that Jeffery gathered up CB Rod Babers blocked punt against Texas A&M and returned it 23 yards for TD to break a scoreless stalemate.
In short, Jeffery has been exceptional on special teams and a virtual non-factor the rest of way. To some extent, this may be expected, given Texas embarrassment of riches at wide receiver. But as for now?
"Hes playing better right now than he has since hes been here," head coach Mack Brown said. "So, hes actually joining those other three guys as one of the outstanding receivers around."
Following a redshirt year, the Houston Klein Forest product has seen action (albeit limited) in every contest of the past two seasons. But Jeffery has emerged this preseason as Texas No. 4 receiver (particularly now that Robert Timmons is out; see Hot News for details), and should return next year (along with exceptional freshman WR Limas Sweed) as one of Texas top receiving threats. For now, the 6-1, 175-pounder is on the cusp of the kind of breakout season that many predicted for him last year.
In Wednesdays scrimmage, the first team offense was facing 3rd-and-23 at midfield when QB Chance Mock found Jeffery on a screen play that picked up just enough for first down yardage.
"I think Tony Jeffery is a guy that you will notice a lot this year," junior quarterback Mock said. "All I have to do is give him the ball behind the line of scrimmage and he makes 18- or 19-yards to get us out of the hole."
Added Mock, "It just make my life a lot easier."
Suffice it to say, Jeffery has eased his way into the prime time. A standout high school quarterback, Jeffery connected on 263-of-463 passes for 3,021 yards and 28 touchdowns in three seasons as Klein Forests starting quarterback. He also ran for 698 yards and eight TDs during his senior season. As such, the transition from a heralded high school quarterback to a receiver carving a niche among higher profile athletes has been a gradual one.
"Tony has had a long transformation," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. "He came in with three great receivers. Its been a transformation for him. Hes having a great camp. Hes making many more plays now than hes ever made. Hes in the right spot and the quarterbacks have a lot of confidence in him. Hes a heckuva receiver, and I think hes really comfortable now."
A not-so-fearless prediction: Jeffery will score well before the Baylor game this season -- and it wont be on a blocked punt.