Of all the stories we’ve written this season, few have generated more fan response than this week’s profile about linebacker Malik Jefferson, who spent some time with his mother before the Baylor game to prioritize his life and rediscover his Texas mojo.
Teresa Jefferson is the mother we should all want. Firm but fair, the 49-year-old made it clear she supports Jefferson but also isn’t afraid to dish out tough love, too.
Jefferson’s production tailed off this season after a strong debut against Notre Dame. He knew it; the coaching staff knew it. Teresa Jefferson came down to Austin, spent four nights in town and made sure her youngest son knew it.
“I had to let him refocus himself on himself,” she said during an hour-long phone interview. “I had to read the articles (to him) that he didn’t want to read. I told him exactly what people were saying. He understood what people were saying. You know how to play football, why you not playing it?”
Asked if Jefferson was ready, his mother said, “He got his strength back. He got his fight back and his determination, which never left. I just told him, do what you do. I can’t just come (to Austin) on a whim. Well, actually I can, but I didn’t want to let him lean on that.”
Teresa Jefferson said parents of all college athletes should be more involved in their child’s lives. It’s common for head coaches to not be available to parents during the season. But most assistant coaches or position coaches will always talk to mom and dad.
“As parents, we need to make sure that not only are we being compliant, but our children are being compliant as well,” Teresa Jefferson said. “We need to be observant to what’s going on. If they call and tell me Malik was dirty and failed a drug test, I’d probably fall flat out. Y’all would probably be writing about me — Malik’s mom came down here with a triple-sized U-Haul truck and picked him up.”
And she scoffs at the notion that just because athletes may be 18 or 19 years old doesn’t mean they are grown.
“If they were grown, I wouldn’t have been down there last week with my 19-year-old,” she said. “I’ve got a 28-year-old son that I still parent. I’m 49 and I still call my mother.”
Q. First and foremost, I want to thank Mrs. Jefferson for doing what a parent does. No matter how old your kids are you can never stop being a parent. Second a thank you to Malik, for being mature enough to sit there a take it all in like a man. We are so proud of you Malik and 150% believe in you. Keep growing into the best you can be not only on the field but off the field. You can and will be the best player on any field. HOOK’EM
— Richard C. via Facebook
Q. Smart mom. Just because your son goes to college, they still need advice. A mom is a mom for eternity no matter what. It is her job to help him become the good man she wants him to be. Way to go Mom for being a classy mom.
— Brenda P. via Facebook
Q. Malik could possibly be the best linebacker to ever come out of Texas, and there has been some great ones. Keep pushing Malik you are definitely one of the best.
— Ray M. via Facebook
Q. Maybe Mama Jefferson should spend 4 days with the rest of the defense. We will be unbeatable!!!
— Michael M. via Facebook
DAVIS: After reading Teresa Jefferson’s comments, do yourself a favor. Go call your mother.
Texas fans were just as impressed as UT coach Charlie Strong with Devin Duvernay’s effort to try to stop Douglas Coleman’s 100-yard fumble return in Lubbock.
Q. We knew he was fast but that was insane!!! I would like to see him in the kicking game next year if possible.
— Rick M. via Facebook
DAVIS: Several players said afterward they were stunned that Duvernay was fast enough to chase Coleman down. He actually pushed the speedy Red Raider out at the 2-yard line, although officials missed that completely. How is that not overturned on review? C’mon, Big 12. Anyway, Duvernay is the ultimate home-run hitter, as proven by his multiple long touchdown catches this season. The defense is doing a better job of not giving up deep balls. Opposing defenses are doing the same, though. I really don’t see why he can’t be tried on kickoff return. It’s not like the Horns are burning it up there. Texas averages 18.6 yards per return, which is eighth in the Big 12.
Some fans are itching to talk about bowl projections.
Q. Let’s win this weekend. Then we can talk on a completely different level.
— Scott R. via Facebook
Q. Settle down, we gotta keep winning before thinking bowl. Smh!
— Saul M. via Facebook
DAVIS: Hey, considering Texas did not qualify for the postseason last year, I’m not going to stop anybody from dreaming about potential December matchups. One of the most interesting I’ve seen thus far is Texas vs. LSU in the Texas Bowl. That’s one of those matchups of helmets that bowl reps would absolutely love. But yes, Texas still needs to reach six wins first, and that could happen Saturday against No. 16 West Virginia.
Q. Coach Strong said he would improve the defense and he has. However, if the Longhorns lose against West Virginia, there will be as much talk about him being fired as there was after the team loss to Kansas State. Let’s beat West Virginia, then Kansas, then TCU, then the bowl game. After all those things happen, hopefully he can be considered for a raise. Hook Em.
— David W. via Facebook
Q. Wait, a pay raise or even extension?! Hell no. Not until he has a consistently good season. I don’t see how he can go from a seat on fire to a pay raise in two weeks. That’s ridiculous.
— Justin H. via Facebook
DAVIS: Prior to the season, I wrote there were only two things that could happen in December. Strong would either get a contract extension or be fired. Let’s say that Texas President Gregory L. Fenves decides that Strong should stay, and judging by the way things are going, it’s trending that direction. You cannot have a head coach go forth with only two years remaining on his contract. That’s easy fodder for opposing coaches on the recruiting trail. “Why would you sign with them? He’s not gonna be there for four years!” So you must give Strong some sort of extension. Now, how long should it be, should it include guaranteed money, etc., those are things we can discuss later. Strong still controls his own destiny, and if he wins out, those in the Tower would be happy to discuss an extension.
The 18-Wheeler package continues to leave fans frustrated.
Q. You have the nation’s leading rusher standing on the sidelines watching the 18-Wheeler try three times get one yard? Really?
— Rick N. via Facebook
Q. Hawaii can feel like a planet or two away from Austin these days. Someone please stand close to Sterlin during these fourth quarter short-yardage calls. I love what Swoopes stands for but enough already.
— Ed D. via email
DAVIS: Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert didn’t seem fazed by our questions on Tuesday about why he used Tyrone Swoopes instead of D’Onta Foreman on third-and-2 and fourth-and-1 downs late against Texas Tech. “We’ve got a lot of belief and confidence in that package and utilize it for what it is,” Gilbert said. “That’s what we felt confidence in.” At this point, Gilbert must realize he’s playing with fire here. To pull Foreman off the field at winning time is flat-out unbelievable. I’d like to believe watching Swoopes gets stuffed twice by an awful defense will give him pause the next time that situation arises.
— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) November 9, 2016
Speaking of Foreman, the UT publicity department is starting to push the hashtag #HEISForeMAN on social media.
Q. Unfortunately, he’s on a crappy team! He’s the best running back in the country, but the Heisman voters won’t consider a player on a bad team.
— Greg F. via Facebook
Q. He should be invited for sure. He is the best running back in the country. Jackson will win it though.
— Dan J. via Facebook
Q. He won’t need that to play on Sundays. He is a great running back.
— Shannon S. via Facebook
DAVIS: Foreman needs to finish the year strong to even be remotely considered for a trip to New York. If I had to bet the farm, I think he’ll finish as the second 2,000-yard rusher in Texas history. He’s truly a special back. When this season is over, you simply shake his hand, thank him for the contributions and wish him well. Foreman would be out of his mind to return for another year.
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