NORMAN — Former Oklahoma safety Tony Jefferson hopes that one day, he can return to his native southeast San Diego area and provide backpacks — among other necessities — for the kids there.
In the latest episode of Yahoo! Sports’ “Dream Chasers” web series, Jefferson described the rough area in which he was raised.
“I didn’t have a backpack through elementary,” Jefferson said in the video, which was posted online Tuesday. “All I had was a brown bag which was my lunch that I made with sometimes molded bread.
“I want to go back and talk to the kids and just encourage them. Your life doesn’t have to be this way. Being in the hood, you can make right decisions, and people have done it before.”
Jefferson’s father, also named Tony, was also born and raised in southeast San Diego. He was interviewed for his son’s “Dream Chasers” episode, and admitted being part of a gang in the 1980s.
“I was in a gang, and during that time in the ’80s, once you in, you in, and it’s hard to get out,” said the elder Tony Jefferson. “My kids knew my struggle. By them knowing about their dad and what I went through, they decided not to take the route that I took.”
Jefferson started 34 games over his three-year Oklahoma football career, and appeared in 40. He was the Sooners’ free safety last season, leading the team with 119 tackles while playing most of the season with a high-ankle sprain.
He was voted a second-team All-American by the Associated Press, and opted to skip his senior season to enter the 2013 NFL Draft, which begins Thursday, April 25.
ESPN currently ranks Jefferson as the 22nd-best safety prospect available.
“Dream Chasers” also followed former Sooner receiver Kenny Stills, whose episode was released online April 4.
Here’s the full schedule of “Dream Chasers” episodes:
April 2: Dion Jordan, Oregon
April 4: Kenny Stills, Oklahoma
April 9: Kyle Long, Oregon
April 16: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
April 18: Matt McGloin, Penn State
April 22: Kenjon Barner, Oregon