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As mentioned in the latest edition of the Gators stock report, wide receiver Van Jefferson had himself a game against the LSU Tigers in Death Valley this past Saturday.

Jefferson has had a productive season thus far, as the senior already has 27 receptions for 331 yards and three touchdowns. Jefferson ranks second on the team in receptions, only to be outdone by Kyle Pitts at 30 receptions. The senior receiver is utilized heavily in the short-to-intermediate passing game, given his absurd route-running ability, and averages 12.3 yards per catch.

Let’s dive into the film, shall we?

FILM ROOM

The 6-2 wide receiver took true freshman cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. of LSU to school last weekend, as Jefferson racked up 53 yards on four catches just on the opening possession of the second half.

Dan Mullen loves to create mismatches within his offense, and out of the half, he knew exactly which matchup he was going to exploit.

Mullen targeted Stingley on the first play of the second half, and Trask threw a beautiful back-shoulder pass to hit Jefferson on a comeback route for a 20-yard gain. The next play was the exact same, and this time Jefferson gained 17 yards.

On the fourth play of the drive, Mullen again gets Jefferson into space, and he wins another rep against the freshman. Jefferson beat Stingley with two steps - the first being a misdirection and then with his opening step. Stingley didn’t want to get beat up top like he had been on the two comeback routes earlier in the possession, so Van freezes him and cuts back inside. Trask puts the ball on the money yet again for another 12-yard pickup.

Mullen highlights this call and comes back to it in the red zone, as Jefferson ends up scoring on another slant in man coverage against Stingley.

Similar to the earlier slant, Jefferson had Stingley on skates and beat him with ease after faking the fade and cutting inside. Trask was off on the timing, however, Jefferson has a broad catch radius and pulled it down before being nailed by Stingley and his teammate.

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Jefferson is also a deep threat, but that hasn’t been highlighted recently due to the loss of starting quarterback Feleipe Franks. Jefferson is a great router runner as we have discussed, and he can create space on any route he runs due to his impeccable footwork.

This was highlighted in the Kentucky game on a 31-yard deep post, as Franks delivered a dot to Jefferson early in the 2nd Quarter. All in all, it was solid coverage by Jamari Brown, but Jefferson made the catch due to good ball placement by Franks.

We all know Franks is known for his incredible arm strength, and he found Van Jefferson for a 69-yard bomb against UT-Martin earlier this season. Jefferson was able to sneak behind the safety on a deep post and Franks delivered a strike to Van for an easy touchdown.

Jefferson affects the game in many ways aside from just catching the ball, as he is a suitable run blocker and also is a gunner on the special teams’ unit. There is no question wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales has focused on run blocking since his return to Florida, as it has drastically improved since he has been back in Gainesville. Van Jefferson is one of the best-run blockers on the team at the wide receiver position and is very sound in his blocking technique.

Jefferson is also versatile in where he can line up, as he can play in the slot and on the outside. The senior from Tennessee is a mastermind when it comes to creating space and has great footwork to make you pay for even the smallest of mistakes. 

It’s no surprise Jefferson is so technically sound, as he is the son of former NFL receiver Shawn Jefferson, who now coaches the wide receivers for the New York Jets. Van grew up learning the intricacies of playing receiver, and he puts all those little things together to make plays. 

He isn’t a make-you-miss type of receiver with burning speed, but Jefferson makes up for it will his reliable hands and wide-ranging catch radius. I’m no NFL scout, but Jefferson could be a dependable Day 3 pick for a team that lacks quality depth at the wide receiver position. 

The Gators are very lucky to have a veteran like Van Jefferson leading the WR room, and I expect to see Jefferson play well at the next level once he departs from Florida after this season.