MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As a true freshman, Jordan Jefferson appeared in 11 games for WVU football in 2019.

After seeing his role reduced during his sophomore season, Jefferson was once again a fixture on the defensive line in 2021. Then a redshirt sophomore, he appeared in all 13 games, making six starts at nose tackle, and was an All-Big 12 Third Team selection by PFF College.

Now a redshirt junior, and part of the team’s most-experienced position group entering the 2022 season, Jefferson is looking to build off of what he felt was a productive end to last season.

“I’m playing with a lot of confidence,” said Jefferson Tuesday during the program’s most recent spring football media session. “This is going into my fourth year with the defense. I’m comfortable with it. I know what to do. I got a lot of film, a lot of playing time under my belt, a lot of snaps. So, I’m confident.”

All but two of Jefferson’s seven solo tackles, and 10 of his 17 total tackles, came in the final six games of last season, including the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against Minnesota.

It’s over those final six contests that Jefferson said things really began to click for him once again. According to comments made by head coach Neal Brown and defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley this spring, Jefferson has built on that progress throughout the offseason.

Brown has mentioned Jefferson multiple times when listing standouts from spring practices. Meanwhile, Jefferson says his maturity and understanding of the game are the two biggest differences that he sees in himself now compared to this time last year.

Some of the progress Jefferson feels he has made over the past 12 months actually stems from two seasons ago, when his playing time went down. Luckily, it was during a year that wouldn’t count against his eligibility.

“I think that 2020 season really gave me a lot more time to develop, and actually get a better feel for the game,” he said. “I think it contributed to how I performed this past season.”

While his overall maturity could come from being another year older, and another year more experienced with the Mountaineers, his further understanding of the game comes from a combined effort from both he and the coaches.

“They really focused on me learning the game, learning the ins and outs of my position, just different stuff like that,” said Jefferson.

Another area in which Jefferson continues to excel is in the weight room. He is said to be among the strongest players on the team.

“We got a lot of strong players on the team, as well. So, it’s kind of a competition,” said Jefferson. “You know, those guys keep me going. They keep me pushing, I keep those guys pushing. And at the same time we’re all getting better. It’s a plus all over.”

Playing nose tackle for a team that’s determined to improve at stopping the run 2022, Jefferson’s strength and experience will be key for West Virginia.

Jefferson and the Mountaineers have just a handful of practices remaining before the annual Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday, April 23, at Milan Puskar Stadium.