Football Matters: Jessica Jefferson

Football became my family. It became a haven, a space where I knew I could thrive and grow as a woman and as a professional.

Over the next few months, LEAD1 and the National Football Foundation are teaming up to share stories of former players and support staff for original Football Matters ® content.

Jessica Jefferson
Director of Recruiting Operations, Colorado State Football

Hometown: Charleston, S.C.
Age: 26
Education: Bachelor’s in History with a minor in Communication Studies, Clemson University

Jessica Jefferson didn’t always want to be in sports. But as a former soccer and tennis player, escaping sports was nearly impossible.

During her time at Clemson University, Jessica happened to befriend someone who worked in football recruiting operations.

“I had a close friend that worked in recruiting, and she asked if I was interested. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into,” Jefferson, who chose Clemson because of their engineering program, said. “I worked under Tony Elliott (co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach) as a student recruiter and we hit it off right away. He and other coaches from Clemson taught me about this business.”

Jessica Jefferson at Arkansas.

Eventually, Jessica pivoted and used her experience in digital and social media, taking a job offer as a full-time intern with the New York Jets in 2015.

“I also worked in football social and digital operations at Clemson in addition to my role as a student recruiter,” Jefferson said.

Jessica went on to work with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2016 and took a position with Sports Illustrated shortly after that.

After deciding on another career path with a digital firm in Savannah, Georgia, Jefferson found her way back into college athletics working with Baylor head football coach Matt Rhule in 2017.

Jessica Jefferson at Clemson.

“Football gave me a sense of an identity,” Jefferson said. “I did not have a full-time job offer after graduating from college. I thought I was a failure because everyone in Clemson football had jobs, and I did not. Becoming rich in my prayers and leaning on my faith is what got me through those tough times.”

After Baylor, Jessica spent a year at Arkansas as the director of football recruiting operations before joining Colorado State in 2019.

As one of the few women in football operations, Jessica takes workplace diversity seriously.

“I want other young women to benefit from the path that I have created,” Jefferson said. “I want my work to transcend time and make it the norm for women to hold powerful roles in the sports industry.”

“Football became my family,” Jefferson added. “It became a haven, a space where I knew I could thrive and grow as a woman and as a professional.”

What does football recruiting operations entail?

Any time a recruit comes on campus, the request comes through me. I plan their schedule, which includes who they’re meeting with and when they’re going to see Coach Bobo and their position coach. I’m the first-person recruits see when they get on campus. I’m the one giving them their name tag, working with our creative department on photo shoots and graphics and giving campus tours.

When recruits aren’t on campus, my day-to-day work includes building relationships with recruits and their parents, working on expense reports, designing stationary, working on our mailers and calendar, and planning for our big events. When I was at Arkansas I worked game days, Junior Days (unofficial visits), the Wooo Picnic, and more.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a computer engineer like my Aunt Tracy. I decided to attend Clemson because they have the best engineering program in the country. I also loved that Clemson is near Atlanta. Eighty-five percent (85%) of my graduating class went to University of South Carolina. I wanted to be different.

We’d be surprised to know that…

I have a twin brother who went to Andersen College, which is up the street from Clemson. He later transferred to College of Charleston.