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Oklahoma football: Online report raises questions about NFL-bound Tony Jefferson

According to a controversial tidbit in a draft scouting report, OU coaches have told NFL scouts that Tony Jefferson had “horrible practice habits and a lack of work ethic in the weight room.”
by Jason Kersey Published: January 23, 2013

Jefferson led the Sooners in tackles with 119, and intercepted two passes during his junior season. The Associated Press named him a second-team All-American.

Tuesday's report and Jefferson's response hardly represents the first public spat between Oklahoma's staff and NFL-bound former players; receiver Malcolm Kelly blasted OU's strength staff after running a subpar 40-yard dash at the 2008 pro day.

Two years later, strength coach Jerry Schmidt criticized first-round pick and former OU lineman Trent Williams in The Washington Post after the 2010 draft.

Jefferson's situation is different, though, because it involves private conversations never intended to be public. It's not in coaches' best interest to praise players they have legitimate concerns about; a program's reputation — and, consequently, their future draft prospects — are at stake, too.

Despite the uproar and possible hurt feelings, it seems unlikely the information in Tuesday's report alone would have a dramatic impact on where Jefferson is ultimately drafted. Even if his stock has suffered, he can reverse that some with a strong combine performance and impressive interviews with prospective teams.

The larger question looming from the report is whether or not one of Oklahoma's key defensive players and leaders was properly prepared.

Mike Stoops made what were probably the most critical public statements regarding Jefferson, saying the safety still struggled with “the finer things that make players great.”

“He does some things that really aggravate you, but he comes back and does so many good things,” Stoops said the week before Oklahoma's regular-season finale at TCU.

“He has a chance to be special, and getting him to understand the little things ... has always been my struggle with Tony.”

by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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