COLUMBIA -- Alshon Jeffery elected to stay home and go to South Carolina.
Seven games, 848 yards and six touchdowns into his sophomore season, the Gamecocks are pleased with that decision.
Jeffery is, too.
"Everything happens for a reason," he said Wednesday. "I'm glad I'm here."
The St. Matthews native was once a Southern Cal commitment. Had he proceeded with his plan to move to Los Angeles, he would have been mired in the NCAA fallout that prompted Pete Carroll's flight to the NFL.
One way or another, if Jeffery hadn't selected South Carolina, he would have been coached by Lane Kiffin.
Kiffin came on strong in the recruiting process, nearly convincing Jeffery to come to Tennessee and be part of
Southern Cal (East). Of course, then Kiffin wound up replacing Carroll at Southern Cal (proper).
Funny how things worked out, although Jeffery didn't have much to add on those subjects.
"Man, I'm not going to talk about that," Jeffery said, softly and with a smile on his face.
Whatever he thinks about it or ever thought about it -- and you know it has crossed his mind, to some extent -- he doesn't feel the need to share.
Jeffery would rather play ball. You have to respect that.
The entire country is coming to admire Jeffery's game, in fact.
He's currently third in the country in receiving yards a game, behind only Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (158.9 yards a game) and Hawaii's Greg Salas (133.5).
Jeffery, though, has done it in significantly fewer catches (49) than Blackmon (62) and Salas (70), illustrating his big-play ability.
Jeffery has 14 plays of 20-plus yards and five of more than 40 yards this season. He had five 20-plus-yard plays against Auburn, now the No. 1 team in the BCS.
Blackmon and Jeffery were SI.com's midseason All-Americans at receiver.
In Jeffery's past 15 games, since bursting on the season a year ago against Kentucky, he has 90 catches for 1,550 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He has been over 100 yards in every game this season, with the exceptions of Furman and Kentucky.
Against Furman, Jeffery had five catches for 97 yards in about half the game. At Kentucky, he had four catches for 53 yards at the half, but a thigh bruise and an injury to teammate Marcus Lattimore curbed his second half and he finished with six catches for 65 yards.
"He's incredible," Lattimore said this week. "Hands down, he's the best I've seen. He's the best receiver in the nation, I think. He's going to be great."
In reality, he was before Lattimore arrived. But Lattimore has made Jeffery even better.
With a legitimate running threat, defenses can't focus on Jeffery as much. That creates better matchups over the course of the game.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley joked (sort of) this week that Lattimore is "licking his chops" when he sees film of the Vols' young and banged-up defense.
Lattimore will start Saturday, coach Steve Spurrier said Thursday.
It's one of the best running back/receiver duos in the country, much less the SEC.
"They're just going to be arguing with the head coach on whether to run it or throw it, because both of them look good," Dooley said. " 'We ought to run it, coach. Look at the film.' 'I know, but have you seen the film on throwing it?'
"What we're hoping is they start arguing a little bit about what to do."
Last week, even without Lattimore, South Carolina made school history by having two 100-yard receivers and a 100-yard rusher in the same game.
Jeffery was the second receiver over 100 yards, capping the Vanderbilt win with a 72-yard touchdown catch on a scramble play.
Junior quarterback Stephen Garcia has learned to look for Jeffery when he's in trouble. In that instance, he caught sight of Jeffery in one-on-one coverage and lofted it up for the 6-4, 233-pound target.
Jeffery caught it and took off with what Spurrier has called "sneaky" speed.
"He's fun to throw to," Garcia said. "He's just very football smart. He knows exactly what to do, just on every single play. He knows coverages, knows how to get open and knows how to catch the ball."
Earlier this week, Spurrier was willing to put Lattimore and Jeffery -- without even three combined years of playing on the college level -- into a group of the most talented players he's ever coached.
"If he gets his hands on it, usually we're in good shape," Spurrier said of Jeffery. "He's a very talented player. We try to throw as many at him as we can."
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