Jeffery Poised For Breakout Year

Consider this the annual prediction of greatness for FL <B>Tony Jeffery</B>. Consider it, also, a fair warning to opposing defenses. Now, there is some merit to the yearly forecasts of a breakout season for the acrobatic junior.

This time last year, head coach Mack Brown pronounced that Jeffery could be mentioned in the same breath as the triplets (SE Roy Williams, FL B.J. Johnson, SE Sloan Thomas). Then, it seemed like the only time Jeffery actually touched the ball on game day is when he blocked a punt.

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 Babersblocked 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?

"He’s playing better right now than he has since he’s been here," head coach Mack Brown said. "So, he’s 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 Wednesday’s 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 Forest’s 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. It’s been a transformation for him. He’s having a great camp. He’s making many more plays now than he’s ever made. He’s in the right spot and the quarterbacks have a lot of confidence in him. He’s a heckuva receiver, and I think he’s really comfortable now."

A not-so-fearless prediction: Jeffery will score well before the Baylor game this season -- and it won’t be on a blocked punt.

Horns Digest Top Stories