Ex-LSU star Jefferson out to prove himself with Power
If anyone has any questions about former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson and his off-the-field indiscretions, he has an answer: “Get to know me.”
“If someone sits down and has a conversation with me, they will understand how these mistakes have happened to me,” said Jefferson after arriving in Pittsburgh to join the Power as they begin training camp for the 2013 Arena League season.
Jefferson was one of the most high profile quarterbacks in college football from 2008-2011, leading LSU to a 13-1 record and a berth in the national championship game against Alabama after his senior season.
But on the morning of Aug. 19, 2011, Jefferson was arrested on a felony charge in connection with a bar fight in Baton Rouge, La. The charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, but LSU suspended him for the first four games of the season.
A year later, on Oct. 25, 2012, Jefferson was arrested on a marijuana possession charge in Baton Rouge.
Jefferson, 22, called the incidents “minor setbacks.” He never was convicted.
“The only thing that was done was it publicized me and kind of created a stigma about me,” he said.
His one-year contract with the Power is the first step toward repairing his image.
“My route will be different as far as getting back to the NFL,” he said.
Jefferson, who threw for 4,733 yards and 34 touchdowns at LSU, recorded the third-fastest 40-yard dash time at the 2012 NFL Combine (4.65 seconds), behind Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. He wasn't drafted but was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and released at the end of camp. He spent the 2012 season as a backup with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.
Power coach Derek Stingley said Jefferson will compete with former Hawaii quarterback Shane Austin. Steven Sheffield, who played at Texas Tech, is the third quarterback on the roster, but his arrival has been delayed by illnesses in his family.
At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Jefferson is the most intriguing athlete of the group.
“He is that perfect model for a quarterback,” Stingley said. “He can throw a great ball. He is athletic enough to extend the play. He's tough. “The NFL has to see him around a team atmosphere to see if he is a leader and will be a model citizen.”
Jefferson is only part of the Power's recovery from a 5-13 2012 season plagued by labor strife and a midseason coaching change.
Stingley returns with a two-year contract, but only eight players from last year's team, including former Aliquippa wide receiver Mike Washington, who recorded 1,484 receiving yards and 34 touchdowns.
Washington is one of four players signed to a three-year contract that is a new feature of the Arena Football League collective bargaining agreement.
The others are linebacker Alvin Ray Jackson, who had 14 interceptions for the New Orleans VooDoo last season; former IUP lineman Beau Elliott and Sheffield.
Wide receiver P.J. Berry, who had 3,306 yards in receptions and returns last season, may get the same deal when he recovers from an upper-body injury.
“I'm 99.9 percent sure he will be back,” Stingley said.
With no strike threat and salaries increased from $400 to $830 per game, Stingley said everyone's attitude changed.
“Players will be more focused; coaches will be less stressed,” he said.