NORMAN — Oklahoma football enters another offseason clouded by questions stemming from a second straight season largely defined by subpar defense.
The blame has fallen on two coordinators — first Brent Venables, then Mike Stoops — lacking talent on the defensive line, too much schematic tinkering and a conference filled with fantastic quarterbacks directing spread offenses.
But one online report raised questions about the second-team All-America safety, considered one of Oklahoma's defensive leaders the past two seasons.
According to a controversial tidbit in a WalterFootball.com draft scouting report, OU coaches have told NFL scouts that former safety Tony Jefferson — who chose to skip his senior season and enter April's NFL Draft — had “horrible practice habits and a lack of work ethic in the weight room.”
A spokeswoman for Octagon Football, which represents Jefferson, declined The Oklahoman's request Wednesday for an interview.
Jefferson, though, unleashed a barrage of tweets Tuesday in response to the report.
“Also y'all be careful who y'all let pat you on the back,” read the final part of Jefferson's several- tweet response. “They could be patting you on ur back to find a soft spot, just to stab you in it!”
In response to an OU fan on Twitter, Jefferson said, “been a leader in the weightroom since I got there.”
To another Twitter user, he said, “Coaches hate me man. It's all good tho.”
Sooner coaches never once specifically criticized Jefferson's work ethic or commitment; to the contrary, Mike Stoops often praised Jefferson for playing most of last season on a badly sprained ankle.
For much of his sophomore season, Jefferson played with a sprained knee.
ESPN.com ranks Jefferson as the fifth-best safety prospect available in the 2013 draft. Last week on a conference call with reporters, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., said he expects Jefferson to be a second-round pick.
“I like the way he plays the game,” Kiper said. “He's got real good awareness. Real good instincts for the position. He's been a playmaker his whole career.”
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