Muskegon’s Jef­fer­son loves ‘fam­ily vibe’ at MSU

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY ALLEN TRIEU Special to The Detroit News

With un­der two min­utes to play in last sea­son’s Di­vi­sion 3 state ti­tle game, Muskegon had the ball 3rd-and-goal down 23-21 to Or­chard Lake St. Mary’s. Dur­ing a time­out, the Big Reds were dis­cussing the play call when La’Dar­ius Jef­fer­son, then a ju­nior, pas­sion­ately promised his coaches the Ea­glets would not stop him if his num­ber was called.

They did, and he scored, giv­ing the Big Reds a 28-23 lead. Un­for­tu­nately for Jef­fer­son and his team, St. Mary’s mounted a late drive and won a 29-28 thriller at Ford Field.

With that mem­ory still fu­el­ing this sea­son’s play­off run, Jef­fer­son’s fo­cus is on that ring and not re­cruit­ing, al­though it has been an event­ful week in that depart­ment. He was of­fered a schol­ar­ship by Michi­gan State on Thurs­day night, rushed for 123 yards and two touch­downs while pass­ing for an­other in a re­gional cham­pi­onship win over De­Witt on Satur­day, then de­com­mit­ted from Cen­tral Florida on Mon­day.

“I’m def­i­nitely look­ing into State, and loved the place when I was there and love the fam­ily vibe and at­mos­phere and the coach­ing staff and so, I don’t know.”

Jef­fer­son played for East Mar­ion High School in Mis­sis­sippi as a sopho­more. He came to Muskegon in the win­ter fol­low­ing that sea­son and be­gan work­ing with the team. His coaches and team­mates called him “Mis­sis­sippi” or “Sippi.”

Now they call him the leader of their team. As a ju­nior, Jef­fer­son to­taled nearly 2,000 yards of of­fense, and that was while shar­ing time at quar­ter­back with Vir­ginia Tech-bound se­nior Kalil Pim­ple­ton. At times, Jef­fer­son was asked to play de­fense, and de­liv­ered there, too.

Some of the un­cer­tainty over which po­si­tion he might play in col­lege led the Big Ten schools to wait on of­fer­ing him last spring and sum­mer. UCF of­fered him the chance to play quar­ter­back, and with a for­mer Ne­braska quar­ter­back in Scott Frost at the helm, Jef­fer­son jumped at the op­por­tu­nity.

This sea­son, with Pim­ple­ton in Blacks­burg, Jef­fer­son is a Mr. Foot­ball can­di­date. He has nearly 3,000 yards of to­tal of­fense and 45 to­tal touch­downs. In­di­ana and Iowa be­gan to show in­ter­est, the Hoosiers as a quar­ter­back.

Michi­gan State is not cer­tain which po­si­tion he will end up play­ing, the Spar­tans just know they want him on their side.

“The of­fer is as an ath­lete,” Jef­fer­son said.

At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds with ath­leti­cism, tough­ness, and plenty of lead­er­ship qual­i­ties, there are a lot of op­tions for Jef­fer­son.

“I still think at the end of the day he could end up play­ing quar­ter­back at Michi­gan State,” Muskegon coach Shane Fair­field told 247Sports’ Steve Wilt­fong. “Michi­gan State is giv­ing him an op­por­tu­nity to get on cam­pus and prove him­self, and if he doesn’t play quar­ter­back, he’s a 220pound run­ning back.”

Muskegon plays Bat­tle Creek Harper Creek in the semi­fi­nals at 1 p.m. Satur­day at East Kent­wood.

Jef­fer­son will take his of­fi­cial visit to Michi­gan State in De­cem­ber.

Allen Trieu /

Muskegon quar­ter­back La’Dar­ius Jef­fer­son has an of­fer from MSU.

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