2013 NFL Draft Interview: Oklahoma Safety Tony Jefferson
After being a great high school player in California and a fantastic player at Oklahoma, free safety Tony Jefferson finds himself under a lot of scrutiny and there is definitely a sense of the anger there.
The type of underlying anger that fuels him in his training and how he approaches the NFL; it focuses him on what he is doing.
He has a lot of confidence and believes he will be proving a lot of doubters wrong.
Peter Smith: You grew up in Chula Vista, CA, and were a heavily recruited high school prospect, so how did you end up at Oklahoma?
Tony Jefferson: I was committed to USC and Pete Carroll had to take off the to the NFL, so I just wanted to go to a stable coaching program and where a place wins and that was Oklahoma.
PS: You played another position in high school.
TJ: Yea, I played running back.
PS: If I’m not mistaken, you think you might actually be a better running back than you are a safety.
TJ: Sometimes, I feel that way.
PS: Talk about the fact you’re leaving Oklahoma with a 5-1 record against Texas and Oklahoma State.
TJ: That feels really good, going against our big rivals like that and just winning big and having the bragging rights.
PS: Your team had a ton of success at Oklahoma, winning an impressive number of games but you lost to Texas A&M, a former conference rival that went to the SEC; how did that feel, that being your last game at Oklahoma?
TJ: Yea, it was tough. We came in the game plan and we were hanging with them at half time, but it was tough to leave on that note.
PS: Break down your game for me.
TJ: I like to play fast, physical, and smart. I was the quarterback of my secondary and that took a lot of preparation and effort to get my teammates to realize that I am serious about what I do and that I am out here to win.
PS: I would argue that the wide open conferences are the toughest proving grounds for safeties because they have to cover a ton of ground, play more man coverage and be the last line of defense and that the Big XII, being the premier conference for that style would produce high quality safeties. What are your thoughts on that?
TJ: We played against a lot of teams who would spread us out and then try to excel at the run game, which would make it even harder on safeties. We had to both the run and the pass, you’re put in a lot of 1-on-1 situations like I was and then you have to tackle guys like Tavon Austin in open space.
It’s kind of tough but that type of stuff does prepare you for the next level, being that the NFL is becoming more of a pass attack offense, spreading people out with the quarterback and stuff like that.
PS: The transition to the NFL will not be easy, but does the fact that the NFL by comparison will actually be smaller in terms of it being more compact make it easier for you in some ways?
TJ: Yea, I feel like it won’t be that hard of a transition for me. I know it’s going to be a transition as far as, not even just on the field, but off the field; becoming an actual adult.
There’s no one there to slap you on the hand or anything. It’s a cut throat type business. You mess up; you’re done. That’s just how it is. I’m just going to be on my P’s and Q’s on and off the field, just trying to be the best player I can be and just try to make things happen.
PS: Talk about the weight you gained from your sophomore to junior year.
TJ: The weight that I gained was pure muscle. I was about 201, 205 at the end of the season my sophomore year. That spring and that summer, I really hit the weights hard. I went and did my body mass test and I had gained a massive amount of muscle. My strength coach, they were surprised at how much I had gained. I was a lot stockier.