Newton High School (Covington, Ga.) head coach Terrance Banks wouldn’t mind at all if his whole roster was full of guys like Clemson commit Darnell Jefferies.
“Great person — humble, jokester. I mean he’s just a joy to be around. I wish I had about 100 more,” Banks told The Clemson Insider last Friday during our stop to watch Jefferies as part of our Tour of Champions. ”He’s a great leader. He’s going to be first, he’s going to be out last, he’s going to stay late, he’s going to put in the work. Everything that he gets, he earns it. He believes in hard work.”
During the recruiting process, and even after he commited to Clemson in June, the four-star defensive tackle didn’t get caught up in the hype — instead, he kept his head down and continued to work.
“Even after he committed, he wanted to get it done because he was focused on this season,” Banks said. “He’s not worried about the hype and the other stuff. He’s worried about us winning.”
Winning is pretty much all Newton has done so far this season. The Rams are 5-1 heading into their game versus Archer (Lawrenceville, Ga.) on Saturday, thanks in large part to a Jefferies-led defense that has pitched one shutout and allowed two touchdowns or less in three of the six games.
When watching Jefferies, it isn’t hard to see why he had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame and Ohio State among others. The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder possesses the coveted combination of strength and quickness with the versatility to play both defensive tackle and end. He even sees some action at tight end for Newton.
“He’s a heck of a player,” Banks said. “We play him inside, we play him outside, it doesn’t matter what you ask of him. He just wants to be the best he can be, and so we’re very excited. He’s going to be a great player when he gets to Clemson.”
Clemson defensive line coach Todd Bates was on hand for the game last Friday, as well, to watch Jefferies play against fellow Clemson commit Justin Mascoll of South Gwinnett (Snellville, Ga.).
Bates recruited the northern part of Georgia when he was the defensive line coach at Jacksonville State from 2014-16, and helped the program sign a couple of players from Newton during that time.
“We’ve been working with him for a long time, so we have a great relationship with him,” Banks said of Bates. “That was very key in being familiar with Newton and how things work when it came time to recruit Darnell.”
Banks believes Jefferies has a chance to make an early impact at the next level with the help of Bates.
Jefferies is on track to enroll early at Clemson in January.
“I think if he can take care of business and get to coach Bates in January and go through that spring, that will be big for Clemson and big for him,” Banks said.
Banks is glad Jefferies made the decision to attend Clemson, because it was the best decision for him personally.
“I’m excited that he went to Clemson,” Banks said. “I always tell my boys to make the best decisions for them. When you’re from Georgia, there’s so much pressure for all these kids — you gotta go to Georgia, you gotta go to Georgia. He grew up with a Georgia fan. So for him to say you know what, at the end of the day, playing for coach Swinney, that’s the best fit — it’s outstanding.”