Special to the Sun
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 | 2 a.m.
During a Liberty High football team spring practice Monday, coaches referred to their star lineman Noah Jefferson as “Jadeveon” or “Clowney” in comparing Jefferson to top NFL Draft pick Jadeveon Clowney.
Both are big-bodied defensive linemen with raw athletic ability. The 6-foot-6, 280-pound Jefferson, considered a three-star recruit by evaluating site Rivals.com, last week was offered a scholarship by USC, validating claims of his ability.
“He’s got everything you would want in an offensive or defensive lineman,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said. “He is 6-6, 280 but lean. It’s hard to find those type of kids who are also athletes and can move around. Every big-time (college) program has been in and is interested.”
Those other programs might want to move quickly. Jefferson seems sold on USC, which was his second offer. The first was San Diego State; Arizona State offered Tuesday. Hometown UNLV hasn’t offered.
“It was really cool (to get the offer) because they are my No. 1 school,” he said of USC. “I might commit to them sometime soon.”
Jefferson is the third from his family to excel on the gridiron — and the third with a well-put-together frame.
His father, William, played two seasons with the Cleveland Browns and later in the CFL. His brother, 6-foot-6, 300-pound Cameron, will be a four-year starter at offensive tackle in the fall at UNLV. William Jefferson is about 6-foot-9, 450 pounds.
“He’s more than 400 pounds and still looks in great shape,” Muraco said of William Jefferson.
Noah Jefferson’s development can be partially credited to watching his brother progress at UNLV. Cameron Jefferson was mostly a basketball player, not playing football until his junior year of high school. Both boys have been schooled by their father.
“Every day is a grind in college,” Noah Jefferson said he learned from his brother. “Someone is always trying to take your spot. They picked you for a reason; you have to show up every single day.”
Jefferson, who projects as a defensive end in college, had 34 tackles and two sacks in 2013. At tight end, he caught 25 passes for 462 yards with five touchdowns. He was even more valuable blocking in the run game, helping Liberty last season win a fourth straight Sunrise championship.
“He shows all the things you look for — aggressive, quick, explosive, powerful,” Muraco said. “USC is the first of potentially a lot of big-time schools (to offer).”
Jefferson already knows what it’s like to go against a college offensive lineman. Earlier this spring, Cameron Jefferson was watching his brother at Liberty, when the two challenged each other — Noah Jefferson would try to get past Cameron in a pass-rushing drill.
“I almost got past him once. He had to hold me,” Noah Jefferson said.
If Noah Jefferson keeps progressing, it could be a similar fate for offensive linemen across Southern Nevada this fall. They’ll have to hold Jefferson with hopes of containing one of the area’s top players, or as he’s referred to by coaches, “Jadeveon.”