Jefferson ready to contribute to Hens

 

Delaware's Wes Hills runs with the ball in Saturday's scrimmage in Delaware Stadium. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Delaware’s Wes Hills runs with the ball in Saturday’s scrimmage in Delaware Stadium. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Junior quarterback Blake Rankin looks to throw the ball in Saturday's scrimmage. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Junior quarterback Blake Rankin looks to throw the ball in Saturday’s scrimmage. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

NEWARK — Thomas Jefferson never saw the field for real last season.

But the way the Delaware running back sees it, he was still getting an unbeatable education in college football.

Jefferson was the Blue Hens’ main scout-team back, going up against the first-team defense all the time in practice.

“You get a great look every time you play,” said the 6-foot-2, 215-pound redshirt freshman. “You don’t get any bad looks against the starting defense of a ‘D-I’ school so it automatically makes you better.”

So, after redshirting last season, Jefferson feels like he’s ready to be a contributor for Delaware this fall.

Certainly, Jefferson will have his work cut out for him in a crowded backfield that already features Wes Hills, Jalen Randolph and Kareem Williams — not to mention converted linebacker Eric Patton.

But with Randolph sidelined by a minor leg injury, Jefferson held his own in the Hens’ second major scrimmage on Saturday afternoon. Delaware opens the season on Sept. 4 when it hosts Jacksonville.

QB Joe Walker takes off and runs with the ball during Saturday's scrimmage. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell_

QB Joe Walker takes off and runs with the ball during Saturday’s scrimmage. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell_

Coach Dave Brock liked Jefferson’s work on the scout team last fall.

“They got a steady diet of Thomas Jefferson,” said Brock. “It made us a much better team (on defense).

“He’s kind of been stop and start, he’s missed a couple of practices here and there,” the third-year coach added. “But I think he’s a guy who’s really going to work. I think he’s very talented.”

Jefferson was a second-team All-Stater as a high school senior in New Jersey. Playing for Passaiac Tech — the same high school as former Delaware standout Mike Adams — Jefferson ran for 1,918 yards and 20 touchdowns in his senior year.

Still, Jefferson says he’s bigger and stronger now than he was a year ago. He’s better prepared for the challenges of college football now.

“Most definitely,” he said. “I was excited for this year knowing this is my chance to finally play. I packed on some muscle and knew that would help a lot.

“It’s tough competition. It’s tough. Everybody’s battling. You’ve just got to keep your head on straight, study, stay in the playobook and do the best you can every single play.”

QB decision looming

On the surface, Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t do a whole lot to clarify the battle for the Hens’ starting quarterback job.

Both junior Blake Rankin and redshirt freshman Joe Walker had good and bad stretches in Delaware’s final preseason scrimmage.

Both quarterbacks threw interceptions that might have been returned for TDs in a real game. Walker did flash his ability to make big plays by running the ball.

“I’m not 100 percent sure that either one of them did enough today to make my mind up without watching the tape,” said Brock. “Now I may watch the film and feel differently, but it didn’t look like it today.

“There’s not a lot of bullets left before we go and play the game,” he said. “So I don’t know how many more realistic looks I can get at it so I’ll be pretty close (to making a decision) I suspect.”

Jarmon trying to catch on

Like the former quarterback he is, Jamie Jarmon is an offensive player at heart.

“It’s always good to have the ball in your hands and have a chance to do something with it,” said the Indian River High grad. “I kind of like being that guy — having the opportunity to, I guess you’d say, wow the crowd.”

Jarmon is getting that chance again after switching to wide receiver this week. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder played quarterback in the spring and was at safety for the last few weeks.

Jarmon made a few catches in Saturday’s scrimmage. Brock said he likes what he’s seen from the 21-year-old, who played minor-league baseball the past few years.

“I think he’s done really well,” said Brock. “He’s obviously a really good athlete. We didn’t need to move him to receiver to find that out. He has good hands, he competes. He’s tough after the ball’s caught. He’s really hard to tackle, he’s hard to deal with.

“When we get in a game situation, we’re going to have five or six ways to get him the ball.”

Brock said he expects to keep Jarmon on offense.

Right now, Jarmon feels like he still has a good deal of learning to do. He’s never played receiver before.

“It’s different,” he said. “I’ve been over here for a couple of days and I’m still learning. I can’t really play as fast as I want to because I’m still thinking as I’m doing it.”

Extra points

Former Hodgson star Ray Jones, a freshman safety, broke loose on a live kickoff return. … Patton made a couple more big plays at running back, including a 50-yard gain on a screen pass. … Brock said he’s going into the season not planning to redshirt any of the healthy true freshmen. … Delaware will start the season with 34 scholarship players who haven’t played in a college game.

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