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Oklahoma football: Tony Jefferson needs to work on the little things

Sooner safety has a high ceiling, but defensive coordinator Mike Stoops says he still has room to grow.
by Jason Kersey Published: November 27, 2012

— Tony Jefferson believes a short memory can be essential for defensive backs.

Mike Stoops wishes his aggressive free safety would be more mindful of his mistakes, so as to avoid repeating them.

Jefferson's talent is apparent, and his ceiling is high; ESPN.com ranks the junior as the No. 5 safety prospect for next April's NFL Draft were he to skip his senior season at Oklahoma.

But before he can reach that potential, Stoops said, he's got to work on perfecting the little things that separate good players from great ones.

“He does some things that really aggravate you, but he comes back and does so many good things,” said Stoops, Oklahoma's defensive coordinator.

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

Jefferson developed his reputation as Oklahoma's premiere defender over the last two seasons as the Sooners' nickel back, a hybrid position that requires a linebacker's toughness and a safety's pass-coverage skills.

Enter Stoops; upon his January arrival, he moved Jefferson to a more traditional free safety position.

The change initially appeared to improve Oklahoma's defense.

Jefferson's athleticism — combined with the increased freedom his new position allowed — made him a force in both run and pass defense.

But over the past few games against high-powered offenses and their mobile quarterbacks, the Sooner defense has struggled. Jefferson hasn't been an exception, and he knows it.

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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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