The NCAA makes stringent rules and monitors the progress of student athletes toward graduation. In 2003, the NCAA implemented a standard called Academic Progress Rate(APR), which was a protocol to make sure that athletes not only played their sport, but were on a track to graduate. APR has given some programs and coaches headaches. It’s a constant process to monitor and resources have to be dedicated to making sure that student athletes remain on schedule.
And then there’s Terry Jefferson. The redshirt sophomore is a two-year starter at safety and he’s blown the NCAA academic standards out of the water. Possibly more importantly though, he will graduate in May in just three years and has made MEAC All-Academic team. It is common to have exceptional student athletes graduate while having one year of eligibility remaining, but for Jefferson to have two is nothing short of amazing.
Jefferson came to FAMU from Miami’s Booker T. Washington High School, where he was a standout defensive back and academically sound student. Even as a freshman, his maturity was evident. It’s also something that the new FAMU football coaching staff has come to recognize
Head coach Willie Simmons immediately recognized Jefferson’s intangibles upon taking the job. “The first thing about being a leader is someone the guys can look up to. When we talk about going to class and being a good football player and doing all the little things, you ask yourself if the guy is doing all those things right. Terry is a guy that does everything the coaches ask him to do. He’s great in the classroom and he’s a very good football player. He was awarded the Jake Gaither Leadership Award at the Tallahassee Quarterback Club this year. That was actually the first chance for me to meet him. When you talk to him, you realize that he is a well-rounded individual with a bright future in football and outside of football,” Simmons said.
Jefferson has been a solid run and pass defender. For the last two seasons, he has been the team’s third leading tackler. He has accumulated 98 total tackles of which 56 were solo and 42 were assisted. He has grabbed seven interceptions and eight and a half tackles-for-loss.
Jefferson sees himself fitting into the Rattler scheme. “We’re just out here trying to execute what the coaches are asking us to do. We’re trying to work on doing things at full speed…doing things coaches won’t be able to coach us on, like effort. It’s all about alignment, assignment and finishing and being able to attack the day as hard as we can to continue the progress.”
Coach Brandon Sharp, who oversees the defensive backs, is eager to work with such a talented individual in installing the defensive scheme. “Coming in as a new coach on a new staff, it’s everything you dream about. Having a guy that you can coach and he can also coach the other guys. It’s like having a second coach out there. He does everything right and you only have to tell him once and he does it, all while correcting his other teammates,” Sharp said.
The secret to Jefferson’s success is a stellar academic background. He was always known as a hard worker and diligent in using the resources available to him. “I took advantage of a lot of opportunities in high school. I took a lot of dual enrollment classes. Being that I came here and redshirted my first year really helped me out a lot as well. I’m graduating in a three-year span, leaving me with two years of eligibility. I plan to attend grad school here,” Jefferson said.
International golfing sensation Maurice Allen was the guest speaker at the conclusion of practice this morning. The former FAMU track star was in between competitions and stopped in to encourage the team. “Do you guys have any idea who has been in this stadium. Bob Hayes ran on a dirt track that used to circle this field. Greatness has been on this field before you. You must work to be champions because that is the legacy of this school,” Allen said.
Allen’s chord hit home with the players and coaches. “I don’t look for anything less than the standard that this school presents. I expect greatness out of this season and from this point forward,” Jefferson.