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May 5, 2012
After three weeks of the high school football season it looked like Destrehan (La.) High receiver Rickey Jefferson was on his way to something special. He had seven touchdown receptions in those first contests and the 6-foot, 180-pound player was doing whatever he wanted on the field.
Then it all ended when he blew out his ACL against Geismar (La.) Dutchtown and was done for his entire junior season.
While Jefferson still saw offers from Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and USC - among others - come his way, he felt his stock took a significant hit. His four-star ranking by Rivals.com and the placement at No. 13 for his position and No. 104 overall did not sit well with him.
Come June 22-24, less than 10-months removed from the injury, Jefferson will head to Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta for the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge to prove he is healthy.
He is headed to the invitation-only camp to prove that he is both better physically and better than his ranking.
"I am ready to compete," he said. "It has been awhile but I am good.
"I feel alright doing it all. I have done some one-on-ones and played some 7-on-7 the last couple weeks. I don't feel it anymore and I still have my speed and my ball skills."
The inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge will field many of the best players in the country. It will be his first event back and that presents a certain level of nervous excitement.
"I don't think I will be too nervous because I know what I am capable of," he said. "But it will be the first time out and I want to show everyone that the injury is behind me and I am better than what I am being given credit for."
Jefferson is the highest ranked player to come from Destrehan since Rivals.com began ranking recruits in the Class of 2002.
There have been six four-star players to play for the school - including his brother Jordan Jefferson - and a U.S. Army All-American, Ethan Hutson. Despite his lofty standing among this group, Jefferson said that he wants more.
"I think this is a chance to show what I can do."
With a field of the top cornerbacks from around the country to challenge Jefferson there will be opportunity to move up the rankings.
It is that opportunity that draws him - and many others - to the competition. It is also the chance to show he is back and better than ever that will fuel his performance.
"I have something to prove," he said. "I have to get out there and do it. Some people will say I am coming back too soon but I am healthy and I am ready to be out there. If I wasn't I wouldn't do it, but I am, so they need to be ready for me."
Mike Farrell's take
Jefferson is one of the best receivers in the country but is coming off an ACL tear his junior season that allowed him to play in only three games so this will be an interesting test for him. I think he's very dangerous and shifty in the open field and his start-stop ability is excellent, but has he lost any of that due to the injury? He's stronger than you'd expect from a player his size and he has good hands, but it will be his ability in space we will be watching for at the event because if he's healthy he can make people miss even in touch football.