Entering his senior season at Auburn, Jason Campbell was 18-9 in 27 career starts with a 25-17 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Entering his senior season at LSU, Jordan Jefferson is 20-7 in 27 career starts with a 28-18 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Campbell was listed at 6-foot-5, 228 pounds. Jefferson is listed at 6-5, 224. Campbell’s major was public administration. Jefferson’s is sports administration.
And like Campbell, Jefferson’s senior year coincides with the arrival of a new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Campbell got Al Borges. Jefferson has Steve Kragthorpe.
That’s a lot the two Tigers have in common. Through three seasons, that is.
If you’re Jefferson, you have to look at the final chapter Campbell wrote in 2004 and hope that history repeats itself.
Campbell, a lightning rod for criticism much of his career, led Auburn to a 13-0 record as a senior and was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. Out of nowhere, he shot into the first round of the NFL draft. Jefferson has borne the brunt of the blame for LSU when the offense has stalled, but the veteran signal-caller from St. Rose has one last chance to change his legacy.
There’s reason to think he could be in line for a Campbell-like breakout.
In the final game of his junior year, Jefferson threw for 158 yards and three touchdowns to trigger a Cotton Bowl rout of Texas A&M. While serving as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux last week, he earned praise from the likes of NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, who listed him along with Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones as the “most impressive” college quarterbacks at the camp.
The good thing for Jefferson is that he can lead LSU to a memorable season without having to be a star. Campbell had Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams in the backfield his senior year. Jefferson has Rueben Randle and Russell Shepard to target in the passing attack, a veteran offensive line to give him time in the pocket and, best of all, a defense talented and explosive enough to anchor most wins.
Jefferson had his moments late last year, but he nonetheless ranked 100th nationally in passer efficiency. LSU ranked 107th in passing offense.
Will he be the quarterback that shined in the Cotton Bowl with weeks to prepare? Will he be what Mortensen & Co. say he can be?
After listening to coach Les Miles rave about Jefferson throughout spring practice, fans watched him complete only four of 14 passes against LSU’s second-teamers in the spring game. If he fails to step it up when the real games start, Jefferson will hear cries for junior-college transfer Zach Mettenberger by the time October arrives.
But sometimes there’s magic in a quarterback’s senior year.
Ask Rohan Davey. Or Matt Flynn.
Ask Jason Campbell.