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August 8, 2011

Alshon's fame won't deter younger Jeffery



There's Little Brother Syndrome, and there's Shamier Jeffery Syndrome.

He may wish he was just an ordinary little brother before it's said and done.

When big brothers perform a memorable task, little brothers shoulder the yoke of expectation. They have to do something truly Herculean to overcome the saying of "Are you so-and-so's brother … " and even then, there's the chance of, "Well, your brother did (fill-in-the-blank) ... "

Jeffery is a freshman wide receiver at South Carolina, considered a talented athlete with incredible potential. He may not see the field much this season, but over the next four years, he should be a major factor in the Gamecocks' passing game.

He can only hope.

"I'm not really worried about it," Jeffery said on Sunday. "He's in front of me, because I'm playing at the X position. I've still got my four years ahead of me."

But man, that "he."

"He" is Alshon Jeffery, Shamier's older brother. "He" is the school's record-holder in single-season receptions, yards and 100-yard receiving games. "He," by the time the 2011 season is completed, should be the Gamecocks' career leader in receptions (74 away), yards (502 away), touchdowns (nine away) and 100-yard games (one away).

Alshon Jeffery could be considered the greatest receiver in USC history at the end of this season, since he will likely set career totals in only three seasons. While it's not a definite that Jeffery will head to the NFL after this, his junior year, it's a solid bet; he's already on mock NFL Draft projections with one website, WalterFootball.com, predicting that he will go to the Carolina Panthers with the eighth overall pick.

Shamier Jeffery may be playing the rest of his college career with his brother's name peering over his shoulders, as it's sure to be etched onto one of the tunnels at Williams-Brice Stadium. That kind of pressure, especially at the same school, could cripple a little brother.

He doesn't plan to let it.

"I look up to him. I'm very proud of him," Jeffery said. "I just want to do the same things, follow his footsteps, do the same thing he's doing."

The two will have at least one year in college together, and they're already making the most of it. Alshon, Shamier said, didn't try to high-roll him and make him ask for advice; no, big brother handily volunteered it as long as little brother was willing to use it.

The two are a constant sight on the practice fields even after the final whistle has blown, catching extra balls with the younger trying to emulate the older. The two are repeating a pattern they first used at Calhoun County High School, where each was a two-sport star (each of the Jeffery brothers were multi-talented basketball players) and each put up crazy numbers.

Alshon's potential was enough to get the other USC (Southern California) to offer him a scholarship, which he verbally accepted before switching to the Gamecocks. Shamier played two more years of high-school ball, mostly at quarterback, but threw for over 4,000 yards in two seasons as he became another hot commodity from athletic breeding ground St. Matthews.

Shamier admitted he had some thoughts of going to another school (he had offers from Auburn, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, NC State and Tennessee) and making his own name, but the pull of staying within an hour of home was too much to overcome. Mom and family can come see him play, and he has at least a year of learning from the best he ever saw - big brother.

"He shows me what to do," Shamier said, as soft-spoken as his sibling. "We stay after all the time. He says, 'This is our game plan,' and we do it.

"It feels great. Same team, SEC, my brother … he's going to teach me some things. We're going to win a national championship. That's our goal this year."

It will be tough for Shamier to break into the receiver rotation, considering the position is stocked with veteran talent and he's playing in the same spot as Alshon. Still, he has some skill - just ask the most trusted source.

"He's still got to learn a lot, and learn how to play fast," Alshon recently said. "But he's got some moves."

Shamier may have to wait for a while before he can truly show what he can do, and see if he can carve out his own niche. He said that even he is amazed sometimes at what Alshon does on the field, but thinks he can do it as well.

"In a way," he said, ducking his head.

It's a lot to live up to, and he knows that when he makes his first career catch, he better turn it into a touchdown. Then perhaps the outsiders won't say, "Alshon would have scored," or something similar.

But if he doesn't, little brother will work that much harder to score a touchdown on the next pass. And then do it again.

That's the only way to make Alshon someday say, "Yes, I'm Shamier's older brother."

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