To Lynon Jefferson, perseverance is more than just a word. It describes his life.
The former Effingham County High School football standout and current Georgia Southern wide receiver personifies the word.
Jefferson has had three surgeries on his left shoulder and missed all of last season. After waiting more than a year and 10 months, Jefferson finally touched the ball.
In the second quarter of Georgia Southern’s 50-21 win over Western Carolina on Saturday, Jefferson caught a 31-yard pass from Jayson Foster.
“It felt great,” Jefferson said after the game. “I’ve been on the sidelines and in the background a little bit waiting for my time to play and when my time came I stepped up to the occasion.”
He certainly stepped up to the occasion. It was third-and-11 from the Western Carolina 39, when he broke free and dove to catch the pass in the middle of the field for a first down.
Georgia Southern scored three plays later to build a 20-point lead.
“That’s his job. He’s the backup at that position,” GSU coach Chris Hatcher said. “He practices hard every day. We talk about it every day. When your number’s called, you got to be ready. He was ready when his opportunity arose, and that’s what he’s supposed to do.”
Jefferson, who came to Georgia Southern in 2003 as a running back, got to taste what it was like to get hit again. He broke off a 12-yard run in the third quarter and took a hit.
“It felt great. I want more,” he said about being hit. “It felt old school to me.”
Jefferson has been a big-name player since he first touched a football in recreation ball for the Effingham County Recreation Department Red Raiders. In high school, he was a three-year letterman for the Effingham County Rebels and he earned Region 3-AAAAA Player of the Year honors for being an all-purpose back.
After signing a scholarship at Georgia Southern in 2003, he was expected to be a major part of then coach Mike Sewak’s triple option attack.
He was redshirted his first season and in his first game, he caught a 22-yard touchdown pass in Sanford Stadium against the Georgia Bulldogs in 2004.
That season, he rushed for 333 yards on 34 carries, caught seven passes for 110 yards and scored two touchdowns.
In 2005, he rushed for 316 yards on 37 carries and scored two touchdowns. He caught five passes for 116 yards and scored a touchdown.
He missed last season with an injured shoulder and in his senior season, he’s not the go-to guy in the Eagles’ offense
Despite all the hardships, Jefferson continues to persevere.
“It’s hard, but it’s for the team,” he said. “I have to put the team before myself. We’re trying to win a national championship and I can’t do it by myself. I just take one for the team until my number’s called.”
His number was called on Saturday and he responded.
Jefferson said that persevering is difficult, but to get through the hard times, he relies on his faith in Jesus Christ. He literally carries his faith with him.
Written in white on his eye black is Philippians 4:13, which in the Bible states, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
While discussing the verse, he slowly rolled up his jersey sleeve and pointed to his left arm where the verse is permanently marked on his skin.
“I wanted that Bible verse tattooed on me since I learned it,” Jefferson said. “It speaks a lot. It just speaks to me in every way in football, life and in school. You got to have faith.”
Georgia Southern hosts South Dakota State on Saturday at 2 p.m.