When Alshon Jeffery decided to play football for the home state Gamecocks, many couldn’t wait to see his amazing talents on the field at Williams Brice Stadium. Well, Gamecock fans got what they wanted and more from the freshman phenom Saturday afternoon. Jeffery turned in a highlight reel performance, and made it clear that he is a force to be reckoned with and a star in the making.
When the dust had settled from the Gamecocks' 28-26 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats, Alshon Jeffery had reeled in 7 catches for 138 yards and 3 touchdowns. The local St. Matthews, SC, product had not only made his first significant contribution to the Gamecocks' season, but he had burst onto the scene with a dazzling display of athletic ability.
"It took us about six games to figure out that he can really play," Spurrier said. "Alshon was something else in there. His touchdown grab in the back of the end zone might go on SportsCenter. (It ended up being the #3 highlight on SportsCenter). He knows how to go up and get the ball. He does it a little bit better than some of our other guys."
Coach Spurrier has always known Jeffery had the potential to be a big-time receiver for the Gamecocks. "Those Southern Cal boys don’t come to South Carolina for an average receiver,” Spurrier said. “They knew the kid could play.” Well, after Saturday, the rest of the SEC does too.
Jeffery had made spotty appearances throughout the season to date, but was yet to have that breakout game that so many had been waiting for. In the Gamecocks' last game against the SC State Bulldogs, Jeffery finally got things rolling and recorded his first touchdown reception as a Gamecock. Maybe that was all he needed to get going, and for the coaches to gain that confidence in him and his play making ability in real game situations.
So what’s the secret to Jeffery’s playmaking ability? Jeffery said, “When the ball is in the air, coming my way, I’m out to just attack it.”
Jeffery hasn’t been shy in letting his quarterbacks know he is going to make the play either, if they just give him a chance to make it. “I’ve been telling them that all the time: just throw it up where I can catch it. I’ll go up and catch it.
“That’s what I came here for, to make big plays and be a difference in South Carolina,” said Jeffery.
Gamecock quarterback, Stephen Garcia was also impressed with his talented pass catching teammate. “Anytime you can just throw the ball up and the guy comes down with it, it makes my job easier,” Garcia said. “He’ll only get better. He’s a true freshman and I’m glad he’ll be around for the next three years. He’s a tremendous playmaker and we needed that.”
When asked to describe his breakout performance, Jeffery said, "I loved it, especially the one-handed grab I had. It's just knowing what to do and playing fast and hard."
Jeffery seemed to be playing very loose and having a lot of fun as well. He said, "It was a great feeling out there just playing and catching touchdowns."
Jeffery’s emergence has given the Gamecocks yet another weapon in their offensive arsenal. While Jeffery isn’t the fastest guy in the world, he is fast enough to cause defenses a lot of problems if they don’t pay him proper attention. “Alshon has deceptive speed. When the ball’s in the air, he might be a 4.3 guy. When he’s just running out here in practice, you think he’s a 4.7 guy, sort of like Sidney (Rice),” Spurrier said.
The Gamecocks hope Jeffery continues to deceive all of their opponents. But if Jeffery continues to play like he did against Kentucky, the Gamecocks won’t need deception to be successful. Sometimes your guy is just better than the other guy.
The Gamecocks found out Saturday that Alshon Jeffery is indeed pretty good.