There were no doubt plenty of proud observers in St. Charles Parish and statewide Sunday as St. Rose native Justin Jefferson exploded onto the NFL scene.
The Minnesota Vikings rookie wide receiver – and alumnus of Destrehan High and LSU – hauled in seven receptions for 175 yards and a touchdown in his team’s 31-30 shootout loss to the Tennessee Titans
. It was Jefferson’s third game of the season and of his pro career, and that yardage total led all NFL receivers in Week 3.
The performance also vaulted him into the NFL’s top 15 receiving yardage leader, his total of 245 yards (on 12 catches) placing him 14th, just one yard behind Michael Gallup of Dallas.
The highlight of his day Sunday came on a deep pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins. Jefferson pulled down the catch and raced away from the Titans’ defense for a 71-yard touchdown, putting his team ahead at the time 24-12.
He’s proven a reliable target for Cousins, hauling in receptions on 12 of his 15 targets this season.
Minnesota drafted Jefferson in the first round of April’s NFL Draft with the 22nd selection, the fourth among five first round wideouts, with the expectation he would begin to replace the production lost by former Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs, who was traded to Buffalo after last season.
He was the third of three Jeffersons to make their way through both Destrehan and LSU, behind brothers Jordan and Rickey. At first, he was arguably the least heralded among the three, arriving at Destrehan as a 5-foot-7, 155-pound freshman. But he hit a growth spurt, evolving into a 6’1 downfield weapon who blossomed into Destrehan’s most dangerous wide receiver by his senior season.
He earned a scholarship to LSU, where he again wasn’t brought in with much fanfare – Rivals.com rated him a 2-star prospect, while 247Sports tabbed more than 2,000 players with higher grades.
But it didn’t take long for him to render those marks meaningless. As a sophomore, Jefferson caught 54 passes for 875 yards and six touchdowns. Then, in his junior year, he helped spur LSU to one of the greatest seasons in college football history. He finished that season with 111 receptions for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns, highlighted by a record shattering 14 catch, 227 yard, four touchdown performance in LSU’s national semifinal victory over Oklahoma – and a national championship ring.