National recruiting junkies may not know the name Tavarres Jefferson. However coaches, players and fans in middle Tennessee and Tennessee's private school football division know the name well. Jefferson has led his Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth team to an undefeated season through eight games while playing out of position at quarterback at a school that will graduate only its second ever senior class in 2009.
A big reason for Jefferson's relative anonymity coming into the 2008 season was an injury that shortened his 2007 season when it was just starting to take off. Six games into last season, Jefferson severely injured his shoulder, knocking him out for the remainder of football season as well as basketball season, where he is also a division I point guard prospect. Despite the injury, Jefferson showed the kind of competitor he is in a losing effort on the night of the injury.
"I injured it maybe the sixth play of the game," Jefferson said of his shoulder injury. "I kept playing and then at halftime the doctor said if I can't raise my hand up, I can't play. I couldn't raise it in the locker room but then when I got out to the field I guess my adrenaline started pumping and I was able to get it up so I was able to finish out the game."
Jefferson finished out the game despite a chipped bone and torn cartilage in his shoulder as his team lost to Montgomery Bell Academy, a team that would go on to a state championship and an undefeated season. This year, the Montgomery Bell Academy game may once again have been the turning point for Jefferson's season. Jefferson led his team to a victory over the defending state champs, snapping a 19-game win streak in the process and opening some college coaching eyes.
"My name kind of got lost in the shuffle last year," he said. "But after the MBA game, a lot of schools have started calling. Kentucky has been calling, Vandy, Miami-Ohio and some other schools. I have one offer from MTSU for football. I have offers from UT-Chattanooga and Appalachian State for basketball."
Out of necessity, Jefferson has been playing quarterback for his high school team after a pre-season injury knocked the starter out for the year. However it's Jefferson's ability to run not throw that has college coaches excited.
"In a perfect scenario I think I'd be a slot in college," he said. "Some colleges think I could be a running back but I definitely see myself as a slot."
Since colleges have begun stopping in on the 5-foot-9, 175-pounder, a few schools have really struck his interest.
"When Kentucky came by that definitely excited me," he said. "That's like my number one choice. That's where I really want to go."
Jefferson has not gotten many calls from coaches lately because he has been dealing with a broken phone. But with his phone fixed, coaches may be calling his number almost as much as his coach does on Friday nights.