The Miami Dolphins announced Tuesday, Jan. 12, that they have signed former UCF wide receiver Shawn Jefferson as their wide receiver coach. Jefferson previously held the same position with the Tennessee Titans for the past three seasons.
Jefferson starred as a wide receiver and kick returner for UCF from 1988-1990 before declaring for the 1991 NFL draft. Jefferson was part of the team that in 1990 helped UCF get to the Division I-AA semifinals. That year, Jefferson caught seven touchdowns and had a game against Southern Illinois where he produced 135 yards on only three catches. Jefferson finished his career with 67 catches, 1,087 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a returner, he returned 39 kickoffs for 782 yards (20.1 avg.).
Jefferson was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002 along with possibly the strongest class ever. This class was also headlined by former Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper and PGA tour winner Robert Damron.
Jefferson was drafted in the ninth round of the 1991 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers. Jefferson spent 14 seasons in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, and most notably, the New England Patriots. He became the first alumni from UCF to participate in a Super Bowl when he was a member of the San Diego Chargers Super Bowl XXIX team. Jefferson later returned to the big stage with the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. Jefferson was also selected on the Patriots 1990s All-Pro team at wide receiver. Jefferson’s 14-year NFL career was longer than that of any former Knight. He totaled 470 receptions for 7,023 yards and 29 touchdowns in 195 career games.
After his retirement from the Lions in 2003, Jefferson jumped right into the coaching ranks. Jefferson spent the 2004 season as a volunteer coach with his high school alma mater, William Raines high school. While he was at William Raines, he spent the month of June with the Jacksonville Jaguars as part of the team's Scouting Seminar. Jefferson interned with the Lions in 2005, and then was promoted to offensive assistant in 2006. In 2006, he helped wide receiver Roy Williams to a NFC-leading and career-high 1,310 receiving yards while working with the NFC's receptions leader Mike Furrey who had 98 receptions for 1,082 yards. It was the first time since 1999 that two Lions receivers finished with more than 1,000 receiving yards in the same season.
As an assistant wide receivers coach in 2007, the Lions were the only team in the NFL to have four different players finish with more than 650 receiving yards. Shaun McDonald finished with 943 yards, Roy Williams totaled 836 yards, Calvin Johnson tallied 756 yards, while Furrey ended the season with 664 yards. This was the also the first time in franchise history Detroit had four players with more than 650 receiving yards. Detroit's wide receiving unit was also second in the NFL in receptions with 268 and in receiving yards with 3,370.
Jefferson was named wide receivers coach for the 2008 season and held that title for five seasons. As his first season as wide receivers coach, he helped Calvin Johnson breakout as one of the NFL’s best receivers. Johnson finished the 2008 season tied for the league lead in touchdowns with 12 and fifth in the league in receiving yards totaling 1,331. Johnson in just his second year was able to become only the second player in franchise to record 70 receptions, 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns in a single season.
Jefferson only improved the wide receiving corps form year to year as the Lions in the 2011 season were able to set new franchise records in completions with 423 and passing yards with 5,071. Detroit ranked fifth in the NFL in total offense.
As he was let go at the end of the 2012 season with all the coaching changes done in Detroit, it did not take long for Jefferson to find a new job. The Tennessee Titans hired Jefferson just a few weeks after being let go to be their wide receivers coach for the 2013 season.
In his first season with the Titans, Jefferson guided wide receiver Kendall Wright to his first 1,000-yard season as a pro. Wright became the first receiver in franchise history to lead the team in receptions in each of his first two years in the NFL and his 94 receptions in 2013, were the fifth-most for a season in franchise history. Wright also set a career-high mark for touchdowns with six in 2014. Wide receiver Justin Hunter had his season cut short due to injury in 2014, but in his first two seasons in the NFL, he led all receivers with 18.5 yards per catch.
After coaching changes in Tennessee, Jefferson was hired in Miami for the same role. Jefferson hopes to bring the best out of a talented young group of receivers. Miami’s leading receiver Jarvis Landry has amassed the most receptions by a wide receiver in his first two NFL seasons in NFL history totaling 194. Landry also broke the franchise record in receptions this past season with 110. The Dolphins also used their first round draft pick in 2015 on wide receiver Louisville star DeVante Parker. This group of wide receivers has plenty of potential and if you go with Jefferson’s past success, their full potential should be put on full display sooner rather than later.
Jimmy Calhoun is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.