Posts Tagged ‘Cam Jefferson’

W.G. Ramirez

CamJefferson

Desert Oasis-graduate and former UNLV lineman Cam Jefferson is in San Francisco for Super Bowl 50 as a member of the Denver Broncos’ practice squad. PHOTO: Courtesy Cam Jefferson/Snapchat

Cam Jefferson had just finished a stint in the Canadian Football League, with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and returned to Las Vegas for the winter.

The former Desert Oasis High School and UNLV offensive lineman hadn’t given the NFL a thought, since the Chicago Bears waived him on Aug. 30 and no other team seemed interested. So he did what many former athletes do when they return to Vegas, he got a job working security at a local nightclub.

That was until his agent called and told him to get on a plane and head to Englewood, Colorado, where the 6-foot-5, 317-pounder had a tryout with the Denver Broncos.

“The following week I got the call that I was being brought in for the practice squad,” said Jefferson, via a phone interview from San Francisco, where the Broncos are preparing for Super Bowl 50. “I was so excited I began calling everyone – my girlfriend, my mom, friends, everyone.”

His dream had come true. He was an NFL player.

Jefferson, who spent the summer with the Chicago Bears after being signed as an undrafted free agent May 3, is still a member of Denver’s practice squad. And while that means he won’t be getting into the biggest game of the NFL season, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t played a pivotal role in helping the AFC champs get to this point.

“I go against players like DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller every day,” said Jefferson, who has been with the Broncos since Dec. 8. “It’s really an honor going against these guys and then seeing them ball out on game day. For that I feel like I’m a part of this team every single day.”

Jefferson was born in Cleveland, where his father, William, played for the NFL’s Browns (1989-90). After his father’s professional career ended – he also played for the Los Angeles Raiders and spent time in the CFL and WFL – the Jeffersons relocated and Cam was raised in Southwest Las Vegas, where he attended Sierra Vista High School as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Desert Oasis.

Interestingly, Jefferson starred as a basketball player before even thinking of playing football. He didn’t set foot on a football field until his junior year, when he earned all-Southwest Region honors for the Diamondbacks. It was his father who has always been his biggest inspiration, as he was the main reason he switched to the gridiron his junior year.

“He’s been through it all, and all I can do is try to follow in his footsteps and be even greater than he was,” said Jefferson, who transferred to Arkansas from UNLV for his senior season. “My Pops always told me, football – even in most sports – is mostly mental. If your mental isn’t right in anything you do, especially sports, you can’t accomplish anything. Your mind has to be set.

“These last couple weeks, my Pops has been telling me to enjoy the moment, and everyone has been telling me to enjoy this because nobody gets this opportunity.”

Which is why the younger Jefferson always remained focused upon returning from Arkansas, in Chicago, up in Winnipeg, and back home in Las Vegas Рall before landing in the Mile High City.

His mental strength and positive outlook is paying off, as he’s been enjoying the limelight with the Broncos:¬†Snapchatting from Opening Night Media Day and throughout San Francisco, being interviewed by CBSSports.com for a piece on Super Bowl players with tattoos, and simply soaking up the experience leading up to the biggest game of the season.

And even though the “Cam” everyone else tuning into the game will be familiar with will be wearing powder blue and black, igniting Panthers fans with a dab or two, Cam Jefferson is taking pride that he’s helped guys like Ware and Miller, and been involved in¬†meetings on what it means to protect Peyton Manning.

“It always starts in the trenches, no matter what play it is, what down it is, what quarter, what half it is, really, or what game – it all starts on the line,” Jefferson said. “Peyton makes plays because we makes plays. And it doesn’t really matter who it is, the priority of this football team is to execute at the highest level.

“The last couple of months have been crazy. As a football player, you dream of these moments. But to live in them is an entirely different thing. Things have really come full circle for me, because my ultimate goal was to sign a contract. This season has turned out to be a blessing.”

CAM’S PREDICTION: “I can’t give you a score, but we’ll have more points than the other team.”

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By W.G. Ramirez

While starring for Desert Oasis High School, offensive lineman Cam Jefferson was sought after by two schools: UNR and Northern Arizona.

He played in the annual showcase game for high school seniors, and as he puts it, all his all-star teammates had 10 offers on the table compared to his two.

“I couldn’t stand Reno, I didn’t like the city at all,” Jefferson said. “Reno was my first offer, then NAU came along.”

Jefferson v AFA by IIA

UNLV junior Cam Jefferson has started 23 straight games on the offensive line, where he’s played every position besides center for the Rebels.

Thankfully for him, he adds, UNLV coach Bobby Hauck replaced Mike Sanford, and then he came along after NAU.

“Thanks to Bobby and them, they came at the last second and scooped me right up,” Jefferson said. “I love the coaches really.”

And despite having less wins in his college career than he did as a junior for Desert Oasis, he couldn’t be any happier as a Rebel.

“It’s been up and down, but my main goal for me personally was to get better from day one,” said the 6-foot-6, 300-pound junior, who has played every position on the offensive line besides center for the Rebels and has started 23 consecutive games dating back to 2011. “Just ’cause I wasn’t born here, I still rep Vegas to the fullest. Vegas is really dear to my heart, ’cause this is where I grew up.

“This is where my family is, this is where my great friends are here, I take pride in it. Wherever we go … I’m reppin’ Vegas and UNLV to the fullest.”

Jefferson was born in Cleveland, where his father, William, played for the NFL’s Browns (1989-90). After his father’s professional career ended, the Jeffersons relocated and Cam was raised in Southwest Las Vegas, where he attended Sierra Vista High School as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Desert Oasis. He was more of a basketball player, and didn’t set foot on a football field until his junior year, when he earned all-Southwest Region honors for the Diamondbacks.

He credits his father for the switch from the hardwood to the gridiron.

“My Dad is my biggest inspiration, as far as football,” Jefferson said. “He’s the main reason I wanted to play football my junior year. He would always tell me about football. He’s been through it all, and all I can do is try to follow in his footsteps and be even greater than he was.

“My Pops always told me, football – even in most sports – is mostly mental. It’s probably about, from what my Pops says, 90 percent mental. If your mental isn’t right in anything you do, especially sports, you can’t accomplish anything. Your mind has to be set.”

It’s the kind of positive attitude and motivation Hauck relishes in having on his football team.

“If we could get a hundred of that guy, we’d take ’em,” Hauck said. “He’s such a quality guy, he’s a team guy. He’s a really solid player on the offensive line, he’s a captain on the football team as a junior. He’s just a wonderful guy.

“(And) they’re great people around town. They’ve been good, not just for their own son, but for a lot of our kids who are here from out of town. They have ’em over for dinner and they look out for them and they’re just a great family.”

More than anything, for Hauck and the Rebels, Jefferson is a reliable anchor on an offensive line that finally came to life last Saturday against Central Michigan, opening holes for running back Tim Cornett, and protecting quarterback Caleb Herring in a 31-21 win. The Rebels will look to even their record at 2-2, not to mention match their season-win total the past three seasons, tonight against Western Illinois at Sam Boyd Stadium.

And to keep that offense moving tonight against the Leathernecks, Hauck said it starts and ends with “a nameless group of five that makes the whole thing go:” the offensive line.

“How they go, our offense goes,” the fourth-year coach said. “All those guys that make the big plays and get their names up in lights and get talked about, they can’t do anything without the big fellas; they all acknowledge that in the locker room, and Cam is an important piece of that group.”

Though Jefferson doesn’t hesitate to agree, saying “it always starts in the trenches,” he also takes pride when his skill-position teammates make the headline plays.

“When we see guys like Vante (Devante Davis), Caleb, Tim, Nick Sherry, Anthony Williams – when they get explosive runs, explosive big plays – we know it started up front. If we don’t block for them, they couldn’t make those big plays. At the same time, if they don’t make those big plays, what we did was would be for nothing almost. It would be on us.”

With another year ahead of him, Hauck has the benefit of possibly molding a future NFL lineman, something Jefferson would love to do, following in his father’s footsteps.

“That’s my main goal, at the end of it all,” said Jefferson, a Psychology major. “Get my degree, be one of the greatest at UNLV and go off to be in the NFL.”