Yesterday, LSU football coach Les Miles admitted something big about one of his incoming recruits while trying not to say anything.
Specifically, Miles confirmed that Rickey Jefferson, a defensive back from Destrehan whose brother Jordan had a tumultuous four years as the Tiger quarterback on and off the field, had not disclosed to the coaching staff the fact he’d been arrested on Feb. 2 for fighting with a Jefferson Parish sheriff’s detective at a Mardi Gras parade on Veterans Highway in Metairie as that detective was attempting to bust one of the recruit’s friends for marijuana possession.
“This is new information,” Miles said Wednesday at a news conference to preview spring practice. “We don’t know. We have to find out what’s going on. I don’t have a lot of information at this point.”
Miles said he has not spoken to Rickey Jefferson about his arrest.
That’s not a particularly good piece of information where Jefferson is concerned.
You don’t want to judge one brother by the actions of another. But when Miles and his coaching staff opted to take Jefferson in the first place it was something of a controversial decision. Most of the recruiting services seem to think he’s a high-quality player, but Jefferson wasn’t selected as an all-state performer (he was only an honorable mention as a senior) at Destrehan. What’s more, his bio from LSU’s web site only lists him at 5’10”, which is a lot smaller than the 6’1″ the recruiting services were listing him as. Defensive backs who stand 5’10” are a dime a dozen.
And considering that his brother became known for a questionable on-field demeanor (fan message boards had a great time with the numerous “who farted?” looks TV cameras picked up on his face as he came to the sideline after a turnover or a failed 3rd down conversion), lost much of his senior season following an arrest for fighting in a bar parking lot during fall camp, delivered one of the worst performances in a national championship game by a quarterback in modern memory and then punctuated his LSU tenure by getting arrested a second time in a drug bust at an apartment near campus last year, there wasn’t a lot of excitement among the fans about reliving that experience with another member of the St. Charles Parish Jefferson clan.
Evidence that Rickey would be a different sort than his brother would probably alleviate those concerns. Unfortunately, Jefferson The Younger’s arrest makes him look like more of the same.
And the fact that Jefferson clammed up rather than notify the coaches he’d been arrested in advance of National Signing Day is rather significant. Arrest records tend to get backed up during Mardi Gras, and as a result he was able to fly under the media radar for as much as six weeks without LSU really knowing what it was they’d signed.
That doesn’t exactly send a signal to Miles that this Jefferson will offer a pleasant coaching experience.
And there is some additional context here – namely, that LSU had to turn away a pair of players who had committed to the team a long time ago (Denham Springs defensive tackle Tevin Lawson, who ultimately signed with TCU, and Jewel Sumner safety Jeremy Cutrer, who is still available) because neither were perceived to be academically eligible at the time and space was limited. Cutrer sounds like he might actually have his grades, and Lawson and his coach insist academic qualification is not a problem. Not much can be done where Lawson is concerned, but Cutrer is in limbo at present because his spot is being held by a player who lied by omission about an arrest record to the coaches.
Miles is capable of making his own decision as to what to do with this new information, but should he decide to release Jefferson as a result of his failure to disclose a fairly material circumstance in advance of signing with LSU and offer that spot to Cutrer, the guess here is he would have few complaints from doing so.
LSU’s program is far past the point where it needs to be held up by 18-year olds who take swings at cops in parking lots and then try to hide it from the coaches. Jefferson’s scholarship would rightly be in jeopardy in its own right after such a debacle. With the experience of his brother’s behavior as context, the ice gets even thinner – particularly where the fans are concerned.