PISCATAWAY - D.C. Jefferson is going to start. There's not a doubt in his mind.
While he's second on the depth chart right now behind Paul Carrezola, that's just temporary.
"Put it like this," Jefferson said, motioning down at the recorder to indicate he knows it's on, before pausing and then finishing. "I know I'm starting. Regardless of what anyone says."
It wasn't in a cocky or arrogant tone. Rather a confident, matter of fact kind of way.
And truth be told, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end will be.
"I think D.C.'s still working himself into shape," head coach Kyle Flood said of why he's not the number-one tight end. "Whether or not that continues will be determined a little bit by how Paul [Carrezola] raises the level of his game and the consistency that D.C. will bring to the game. Paul is the more consistent producer and performer in training camp -- that's why he's there."
It's no surprise, however, that Jefferson is a bit rusty. The Winter Haven, Fla. native missed spring practice recovering from injuries.
While he says he's not back to 100%, Jefferson said he feels good. Now he just needs to shake the rust off.
"I would say it's just I'm getting back in the groove of playing football again. I got to get more into game speed with my conditioning on the field," Jefferson said. "I can feel my conditioning getting up and being able to go 100% all the time and that's the consistency thing I need to work on. Just consistent with being 100% and going hard every play."
And under new offensive coordinator Dave Brock, that won't be just blocking.
With just 12 catches for 118 yards, the tight ends were seldom targeted last season. That shouldn't be the case under Brock, as the offense will be more tight-end oriented than it has been in the past.
This shift in strategy should drastically increase Jefferson's NFL stock. While Jefferson has shown the potential to be an elite blocker after switching over from quarterback before the 2009 season, he hasn't had many opportunities to show his receiving skills.
"I haven't had all the catches that I've wanted throughout my career, but I don't look at it as I couldn't catch or I couldn't do it. Its just opportunity," Jefferson said. "I'm focused on it and trying to get better knowing that it will help me out in the long run and help the team out."
But it's also the third offensive coordinator in three years. And while some may find that to be a tough task, it's become routine for the fifth-year senior.
"Actually having a new offensive coordinator this year doesn't really mean too much to me now," Jefferson said. "We're used to learning the offense fast and on the go. It's just another year for us. We just buckle down in the offseason on our playbook and focus on fundamentals and stuff to get our offense better and tight ends better."
Learning the new playbook is something he's done. And while it hasn't got him back on the first team yet, he feels it's just a matter of time.
Jefferson still has two weeks to get ready for the season opener vs. Tulane. The question is, will he be the starter?
"No doubt," Jefferson said. "I won't let it [not starting] happen. It won't happen."