Among Rising Stars

Among Rising Stars

Liberty defensive tackle Noah Jefferson held his own with some of the best defensive linemen in the nation at the USC Rising Stars Camp last week.

Henderson (Nev.) Liberty defensive tackle Noah Jefferson committed to USC in May without much hesitation and his experience at the Rising Stars Camp only reaffirmed his pledge.

While only rated a three-star recruit nationally, those who have seen the 6-foot-5, 280-pounder play in person marvel at his athletic ability. This past week, Jefferson was coached by USC for the first time.

But before being coached, Jefferson strolled through the McKay Center to size up the competition.

"I came in around 8:00 a.m. and went through registration," said Jefferson. "I was wearing some of my USC gear, coming in as the committed player. I just wanted to kind of get a feel for what the of athletes were going to be there.

"Seeing Trenton Thompson and Rasheem Green, then walking in with Jacob Daniel was pretty cool. Coach (Chris) Wilson came in and introduced us all. I've become pretty good friends with Jacob over the past couple of months, and I've talked to Rasheem some too. Trenton I've never met."

As a committed recruit, Jefferson saw it vital to furthering the bond between player and coach.

"Coach Wilson is a real straight forward guy," said Jefferson. "He's going to keep it real with you.  I like that.

"I don't like coaches that are yellers, but I also don't like coaches that are too quiet and don't tell me what they want. If I did something wrong, Coach Wilson would tell me. But then afterward, he would take me aside and pick me up with the things I was doing right.

"Being there with Trenton Thompson and Rasheem really showed me how to be more explosive coming off the ball. It showed me how to play at a higher, faster more elite level. I took home some good stuff to work on. It was a real good camp overall."

With Green and Thompson rated so highly nationally, Jefferson saw where the bar was set.

"Rasheem is like the No. 3 defensive end in the country and Trenton being the No. 1 player overall, it was great to be around those guys," said Jefferson. "Me being out there doing one-on-ones, playing against the same guys they're playing against, but doing better.

"That made me think, ‘Yeah, I can play at the next level with them.' It motivated me a lot more and pushed me harder to see where I can take this."

Unlike other events, Jefferson did not play tight end and receiver, which is always a sight to behold.

"I was thinking about it for seven-on-seven, but I didn't want to make the linebackers look too bad," laughed Jefferson.

As he probably would have.

In addition to learning how to raise his level of play, Jefferson socialized with fellow recruits and did his own recruiting for USC.

"I've gotten to know Jacob Daniel and Roy Hemsley just over Twitter," said Jefferson. "I hung out with them and got a feel for where they were with USC. They like it just as much as I do.

"We were all trying to get Rasheem to commit. He said USC was in his top five, and was one of the top schools he was looking at."

Although Jefferson remains a solid commitment for USC, signing day is still more than seven months away. Part of the camp was also about USC reestablishing Jefferson's reasons for committing in may.

"The way they treated me at the camp made me like USC a lot more," said Jefferson. "And then being around the players on the team and them telling me how things really are made everything seem more real.

"Knowing how the coaches are with the players makes me more comfortable with my decision in committing. I liked everything about the school too. USC just continues to impress me.

"The facilities, and knowing that will be available to me for the next four or five years, is going to be crazy. Also seeing the players that they just brought in for the 2014 class combined with the players we have committed now, I think USC can do something special in the next couple of years.

"It all made my commitment a lot more solid."

Having said that, Jefferson is still receiving a lot of interest from other schools. While he ruled out taking official visits when he committed, a trip to Oregon State or another school is still possible.

"I still get letters from other schools, and I usually don't open them because I'm committed to USC and that's where I plan on going," said Jefferson. "But then yeah, I may take another visit just for the experience.

"I wouldn't go to be persuaded, more just to take it because it is being offered and I want to feel wanted. Oregon State offered me the Monday after I committed. They're recruiting me as an athlete.

"It makes you rethink your commitment, but I put a lot of thought into my decision. USC is the school I'm going to and that's the school I will be signing with on signing day."

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