SPARTANBURG | Perhaps Alshon Jeffery was also intrigued by the forthcoming transition of his brother from prep quarterback to collegiate receiver.
South Carolina’s All-American was on hand for the opening Shrine Bowl practice Monday morning. He was there to watch his brother, Shamier, begin his full-time career as a receiver after two decorated seasons under center.
The younger Jeffery, who stands 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, will team with his brother in Columbia next season after committing to the Gamecocks last month.
“He’s already a good receiver,” Alshon Jeffery said. “He’s just got to work hard and stay focused.”
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His little brother will certainly face increased expectations based on what the elder Jeffery has achieved in his first two seasons. He burst onto the scene in 2009 with 46 catches for 763 yards, numbers that earned him first-team Freshman All-American honors.
Alshon believes his brother has the athleticism to post similar statistics next season, though USC isn’t in such great need of a big-play receiver as it was entering the 2009 season. Tori Gurley, Lamar Scruggs, D.L. Moore and Ace Sanders will also return for the Gamecocks next season.
That means USC will have the ability to bring this Jeffery along slowly. His transition to the collegiate game could take longer than his brother – Alshon was a receiver for all four seasons at Calhoun County – because he’s spent a large portion of the last two seasons at quarterback. He did play receiver for his first two and half seasons.
Jeffery, who had FBS offers as a quarterback, was a dual-threat weapon in Calhoun County’s spread offense, completing 67 percent of his passes for 3,300 yards and 41 touchdowns. He also rushed for nearly 400 yards, had 400 yards receiving, made 35 tackles and collected five interceptions this season.
Still, most schools recruited him as a wide receiver. He ultimately decided that if he was going to catch passes, he might as well do it with his brother for at least one season. He showed off his athleticism in Monday’s first practice, running crisp routes and making several tough catches – wind gusts of 20-plus mph made passing difficult – against a secondary that includes USC commit Ronnie Martin.
“I’m just trying to do my best and get a starting position for Saturday,” Jeffery said of the Shrine Bowl.
“I’ve got to practice hard and get my football legs back. I’m starting to feel it, though. I feel good about playing receiver. My style is a little different [than my brother]. He’s taller than me and more physical than me. That’s the only difference.”
Those who have seen both of the Jefferys star at Calhoun County are expecting similar results.
“He’s going to be a vertical threat,” Calhoun County offensive coordinator Duane Wages said. “He’ll be a nice compliment. If you think about South Carolina, though Ace Sanders came in and gave them some of that, Alshon was the primary vertical threat. What you’ll see is that Shamier is a vertical threat. You can throw it downfield and he’ll go get it. He has that knack like his brother does.”
Wages believes that Shamier is actually a better route runner at this point of his career and is capable of reaching top speed quicker than his brother. However, he’s not quite as physically intimidating and has yet to prove that he’ll put in the necessary work to be as dominant in the SEC.
But the elder Jeffery isn’t concerned about that.
“He probably works harder than I did in high school,” Alshon Jeffrey said. “I think he’ll make contributions to our team next year. It’s up to the coaches and how much hard work he puts in on the field. Nobody is going to give it to him. You’ve got to earn it out there.”