The role of wide receivers has been growing in recent years, as the NFL, college and even high school has grown into a passing league. The power and responsibility of the quarterback position has never been questioned, but the raw skills required to play as a receiver are not enough to be a truly good player.
But one lake area player has been making a name for himself with acrobatic catches and superior skills:
Enter Dylan Jeffries, School of the Osage's senior wide out. The 6'1", 180 lb. receiver's junior season was one of epic proportions, in which he led the state of Missouri in receiving yards. He was named to the first-team All-State last season along with conference and district honors.
His playing drew some attention, along with his performance at the Regional Combine held in St. Joseph this past April, it proved to be enough for Dylan to receive an invitation to the National Super Football Combine in Las Vegas on July 13 and 14.
"I received a letter by mail," Jeffries said. "It was 10 p.m. and I was getting ready for bed. My parents called me downstairs, yelling Dylan. The first thing that entered my mind was bad. I thought someone had died. When it sank in, I felt very blessed and excited for such an opportunity."
Jeffries made the trip to Vegas, where he and a number of selected athletes were put through a variety of drills, including the 40 yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, and the shuttle run, which Jeffries managed to run a 4-40 in.
The experience was great. We also had an interview process. We then went onto receiver drills, such as route running and making routine catches. The one thing that I hated was that people were trying to cut in line and not waiting their turn, which I thought was disrespectful.
Now, Jeffries waits to see if he will get an invitation to play in the Blue and Grey game, in which players from the combine are selected for two teams for a game of football excellence.
Jeffries first got into football by playing catch with his dad and playing at recess. His dad has been a source of football wisdom for him over the years.
"I never actually had the chance to see him play, but he has always been my drive and is the reason I am who I am today," Jeffries said. "He knows the game well and has taught me a lot."
Page 2 of 2 - Years later, he is still playing catch, with anyone and everyone.
"I always make sure that on every catch, I do everything to the best of my abilities, every time," Jeffries said. "What I think sets me apart is dedication and hard work. Any free time I have, I am playing catch with anything I can find."
But what gives him his edge on the field? His skills and practice certainly do, but there's something more to it.
"I believe that no one is going to outwork me when I am on the field," Jeffries said. "If you're guarding me, you're going to have to play your best. You'll have your work cut out."
He can't wait to get back on the field again this year, and his goals for the upcoming football season are fairly lofty, but he believes that his team can do it. While he would love to go to state, he says that it's still one step at a time; so first, the Indians will have to win districts. Individually, Jeffries wants to improve the mistakes he made last year.
When asked whether he felt any pressure for the upcoming season, and the eventual end of his high school career, Jeffries reply was an honest one.
"Coming in after being All-State last year, people are expecting so much from me. It's definitely going to be a huge bar to overcome," Jeffries said. "As for college, having to compete with the over receivers that are just as good or better will be tough."
He dreams of going on to college to play ball and be a starter, but more importantly, he wants a quality education. He plans to major in history.
On the field, he is a playmaker. Normally, a relaxed and easy-going guy, Jeffries approach on the field is a polar opposite. On the field, he is methodical, always trying to calculate how to beat the defender.
But that doesn't mean he doesn't have some fun.
"Everyone is supposed to be quiet in the locker room, but I'm the guy who is always cracking jokes because I believe making the game too serious takes the fun out of it," Jeffries said. "I'm here to play ball, but I want to have fun while I'm playing it."