As expected, University of South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (above) will not return for his senior season in 2012 – choosing instead to enter the NFL draft.
“I would like to thank the fans, my teammates , Coach (Steve) Spurrier and everyone involved for all the opportunities south Carolina has provided me,” Jeffery tweeted on Thursday. “I am proud to say I will always be a Gamecock.”
A 6-foot-4, 233-pound junior from St. Matthews, S.C. – Jeffery is expected to be a late first round selection in April. In three years at USC, he caught 183 passes for a school-record 3,042 yards and 23 touchdowns – not bad for a guy who was once told by University of Southern California coach Lane Kiffin that he would wind up “pumping gas” if he came to play at South Carolina.
After enjoying an All-American campaign as a sophomore, Jeffery struggled in 2011 – catching a career low 45 passes for 614 yards and eight touchdowns during the regular season. During one especially brutal stretch, Jeffery amassed a measly 77 yards over four games.
Against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl, though, Jeffery exploded for a season-high 148 receiving yards in just three quarters of action, including the “Hail Alshon” – a dramatic leaping grab and fully-extended dive into the end zone on the last play of the first half that gave USC a lead it would never relinquish.
Will Jeffery thrive in the NFL?
He’s certainly big enough (and he’s got great hands), however there are some concerns that he might not have the “breakaway speed” that former Green Bay Packer (and Gamecock) standout Robert Brooks had prior to famously “losing a step.”
Of course it’s important to remember that Jerry Rice was once viewed as a suspect professional wide receiver given his 4.71 speed – and all he did was win three Super Bowls, make 13 Pro Bowls and break nearly every major receiving record in the NFL.
Pic: Travis Bell, Sideline Carolina