Rumor was, Alshon Jeffery was fat.
Instead, when the former South Carolina wide receiver showed up here at the NFL Combine, his workout partners were calling him “slim.”
Jeffery weighed in at 216 pounds Friday, dispelling what had been a growing notion that he was out of shape and putting himself back in the discussion for a first-round selection in April’s NFL Draft.
“I just wanted to surprise a lot of people,” the Gamecocks’ all-time leading receiver said. “I heard reports about me being like 250. I knew I was working hard and what I was looking like. Anybody can write anything on the Internet.”
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Jeffery said he played at “like 230” in his last season at South Carolina, when he had 49 catches for 762 yards. While he says he feels much more comfortable at 216, he doesn’t think the extra weight is the reason his numbers were cut nearly in half in his final year.
“I just feel like I’m more in shape and a lot lighter,” he said. Still, the weight “didn’t have an effect on anything. Most teams were playing a safety over the top, and we went with the game plan that was going to win us the game.”
Former Arkansas wide receiver Greg Childs heard the rumblings about Jeffery’s weight, and was surprised when Jeffery weighed in lighter than him, he said.
“Slim, slim, slim,” Childs said.
Jeffery, who caught 183 passes for 3,042 yards as a Gamecock, hasn’t been this light since high school and believes he is faster because of it, he said. His conditioning will be a good sign for NFL teams, National Football Post draft analyst Wes Bunting said.
“You don’t know who started those rumors half the time,” Bunting said. “Someone was saying it could have been his agent. If they say he’s 235 and he comes in at 216, then it looks like he’s been working hard. We’ll see what he runs, but that (weight) is fine with me.”
Jeffery was unsure Friday if he would run the 40-yard dash when the wide receivers work out here at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.
“I just have to make the best decision,” he said. “If I’m not ready, I’m not ready.”
Jeffery predicted he would run in the 4.5 range but said he doesn’t know any of the times of the 40s he ran during his training in Tampa, Fla., and that he never ran a timed 40 at South Carolina. Jeffery will have another chance to run the 40 at South Carolina’s pro day on March 28 in Columbia.
“A lot of these guys want to run on fast surfaces to show how fast they are,” Bunting said. “He doesn’t separate a ton, but if he goes back home and he runs a 4.5 there, it’s going to help him. I would say anything under a 4.6 you would feel comfortable drafting. If it’s in the 4.6 range, he’s not a big-time receiver.”
A time under 4.6 would give Jeffery a chance to be selected in the first round, Bunting said.
“Every kid in America when they grow up playing football, they want to be in the first round,” Jeffery said. “I’m a hard worker, I learn real fast. I just want to be one of the best players ever.”
Jeffery, who thinks he has the best hands among this year’s draft eligible players, thinks he can bring a lot to the team that drafts him, he said.
“I am going to bring a great energy, a great teammate, a great person and go out and work hard every day and just make everyone around me better and try to push myself,” he said.