Jefferson adjust at QB

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ferriday High School quarterback Richard Jefferson looks to unload a pass during practice Monday at Ferriday High School. Jefferson, a senior, played three seasons at running back and cornerback before switching to quarterback this season. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

FERRIDAY — A world of difference exists between running back and quarterback. Just ask Ferriday High School’s Richard Jefferson.

After playing tailback and cornerback for three seasons, the Trojans’ senior is spending his final year of prep football behind center. And the adjustment wasn’t easy, Jefferson said.

“After (head coach Richard Oliver) told me I was moving, I practiced very hard and learned to study and watch film,” Jefferson said.

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“The transition has been very difficult. You have to see what the linebackers, corners and safeties are doing.”

Which is a far cry from running back, where the main focus was just finding room to move the chains.

“When you’re at running back, you’re just looking at the linemen and linebackers, and trying to find a hole,” Jefferson said. “As a quarterback, you’re trying to look at the whole defense.”

Whatever difficulties Jefferson has faced making the switch, Oliver said he’s been very impressed with Jefferson’s ability to learn on the fly.

“I like his composure,” Oliver said. “I like how he leads the team. I like his will and his attitude. I like almost everything about him. He’s a good kid.”

Jefferson also said he’s been very thankful toward the coaches for realizing his strengths and constructing the Trojans’ offense around those strengths.

“My strengths are running the ball and throwing good short routes,” Jefferson said. “The coaches do a great job building around my strengths. They know what I can do instead of what I can’t do.”

Oliver said the reason for asking Jefferson to make the switch was because of Jefferson’s intelligence — which is what he likes in a quarterback.

“You want a quarterback that’s intelligent and is a good leader,” Oliver said. “He’s a good leader, and he hates to lose. Those are all the intangibles you want in a quarterback.”

And Oliver said intelligence comes into play due to how much he expects out of his quarterbacks.

“We ask our quarterbacks to do a lot,” Oliver said. “He’s still in the process of learning, but he does everything pretty well and picks up on it really quickly.

“We ask our quarterbacks to run more than usual, instead of just handing the ball off. They have to do a lot of running and a lot of check-offs.”

Jefferson admitted he was nervous about moving to a new position at first, but he realized his team needed him to step up as a leader.

“Senior leadership is very important,” Jefferson said. “The main thing about being a leader is to not get down, and to always forget the last play, whether it was good or bad.”

Now that he’s made the switch, Jefferson said he knows what to tell other players that might play quarterback in the future.

“I would tell them not to be nervous,” Jefferson said. “It’s a big leadership role, so I would tell them to learn the defenses as well as they can.”