June 16, 2024

Alabama Freshman Amari Jefferson Excited To Fit Into Kalen DeBoer’s Offense

The Alabama Crimson Tide football program was hit with massive news in January as legendary head football coach Nick Saban announced his retirement after 17 seasons in Tuscaloosa. His decision sent shockwaves throughout the college football world as the seven-time national champion decided it was time to hang up the whistle and call it a career. Saban’s retirement sent the college football coaching carousel spinning as the Tide replaced the legend with Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer.

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“Yeah, pretty shocked to be honest. He came and visited me really, like, two or three weeks before. The whole time throughout the process you just never, I just never thought – I mean I figured he’d be close to the end, probably my sophomore or junior year or something like that,” said Alabama signee Amari Jefferson to BamaCentral on the Joe Gaither Show about Saban’s retirement.

“So it was real shocking, just to see him go. I was working out and my weight lifting coach actually came up to me and was like, ‘hey I don’t know if you’ve seen, but there’s reports going out about Saban retiring’. I was just like, no way, this can’t be true. It definitely hurts because me and Coach Saban had a really good relationship. He was really, I’d say, the key piece of why I chose Alabama from the start.

So it really did kind of hurt?” The NCAA has a number of procedural rules and regulations that kick in when a coaching change occurs. Player on the roster have a new 30 day window to enter the transfer portal if they so choose and special consideration is often given to early enrollees in case they’d like to be released from their letter of intent.

The Crimson Tide saw two of its 2024 early enrollees released from letters of intent as quarterback Julian Sayin and cornerback Jameer Grimsley each sought out opportunities elsewhere. Sayin ended up at Ohio State with offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien who recruited him during his time at Alabama and Grimsley ended up at Florida, one of his original final three choices.

Jefferson, the state of Tennessee’s Mr. Football, signed his letter of intent in December on the National Early Signing Date, but did not enroll early due to academic obligations and his desire to win a baseball state championship for Baylor School in Chattanooga.

He detailed to BamaCentral how he and his family managed the coaching change and if he had thought about looking elsewhere for his college football. “Yeah, we definitely had those discussions just as a family. We talked to the AD the night Saban retired. He said just to give us three days before we start looking elsewhere.

We took more than the three days because we wanted to get on the phone with the new staff,” said Jefferson. “Especially since I’ve already signed, I’m already technically an Alabama football player, so there’s really nothing we could have done unless I got released from my letter of intent.

But it wasn’t a safe choice to get released from our letter of intent that soon, especially not being able to meet the new staff and see who they bring in. We waited and wanted to see and talk to them before making a decision.”

The NCAA also permits recruits to take an additional official visit to a program with a new coach, even if you’ve already used your allotment of official visits. Jefferson and his family took advantage of that this past weekend. He and his family spent last Saturday in the facilities they’ve already come to know, but fresh faces and new ideas fill the hallways and the star receiver wanted to meet them in person.

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“The weekend went great. Just the first time getting down and getting to meet the new staff in person. It’s definitely different than being on the phone with them, but I would say in a good way,” said Jefferson. “Just getting to see their energy, their passion for the game, just how they work together as a coaching staff, you can tell why they won at Washington, and really everywhere they’ve been.

” You needn’t look any further than the Alabama flag hanging on the wall behind Jefferson’s head during the interview to know that he was still locked in with the Crimson Tide. DeBoer and his staff impressed the dynamic receiver and left him with a sense of excitement for the future as he plans on enrolling at the University of Alabama for the start of the Summer 1 semester on May 28.

“Yeah, I love Coach DeBoer. He gives off great energy. You can tell he cares about his players a lot and everybody that has been around him loves him. I have great things to say about Coach DeBoer. I’m excited to go down there and get to work with him and try to keep Bama at the standard at the standard that it’s been at.”

Jefferson was a dynamic weapon for the Baylor High School Red Raiders. He was instrumental in winning a state championship his junior year and even more important taking the Red Raiders back to the title game his senior year. He hauled in 74 receptions for 1,401 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior and left everything on the field in his final game making eight receptions for 210 yards and two scores, coming up just a few yards short of the state championship game record for yards.

He’s clearly highly talented but the Crimson Tide is bringing in a stellar wide receiver class as Rico Scott, Aeryn Hampton and Ryan Williams join Jefferson in Tuscaloosa. Is there room for all of them in the DeBoer offense? “I think really, just the thing that sells the offense the most is just the product they put on the field,” said Jefferson. “They had two guys over 1,000 yards this year.

Really, they would have had another guy over 1,000 yards if he didn’t get hurt. They’ve led the country in passing the last two years. Just the statistics that they have, the stats that go behind them, really just the product they put on the field shows why a receiver would love to play for Coach DeBoer.:


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