Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Although his father played at Texas A&M, junior wide receiver Jeff Fuller is doing anything but following in his father's footsteps. Instead, he is making a name for himself, creating a legacy of his own.
"I actually didn't start playing football until my freshman year in high school at McKinney High," Fuller said. "Before, I was this basketball only kind of guy. When I moved to Texas, I got involved in Texas football and Texas tradition. I took an unofficial visit up here for a camp; the same weekend of the Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M game. College Gameday was here and it was a really close game. That game definitely made me want to play for the 12th man, which was my sophomore year in high school."
His dad, Jeff Sr., played for Texas A&M as a standout defensive back from 1980-83 and then continued his career in the NFL, playing for the San Francisco 49ers from 1984-88.
"My dad left it up to me [to choose the school I wanted to play for]," Fuller said. "I came up here for my official [visit] and Jerrod was my host. He showed me around and I had a pretty good weekend. Coach Slocum was my dad's position coach when he was here so I got to talk to Coach Slocum when I came for my official visit along with Jacob Green. Jacob had a huge influence, he actually hosted my dad for his official [visit] to A&M when he was going through recruiting so he gave me a lot of good input and I just felt like it fit, and it was where I was the most comfortable. I still feel like I made the right decision."
"My dad has definitely inspired me; he teaches me how to approach the game," Fuller continued. "I watch a few films, few highlights of him and see how he always attacks the game. I try to implement that in my game. He was a defensive player, played line backer and safety, and I'm a receiver but I definitely try to attack the game and just go out there and enjoy it. He has given me some great advice but the best advice my dad has give me is, don't cheat the game or else the game will cheat you. "
It certainly seems like Fuller has been playing the game right.
His freshman year, Fuller started in eight games at wide receiver. He began making his presence known by completing 50 passes for 630 total yards. Out of those 50 receptions, 24 resulted in a first down. Fuller also set a school record with nine receiving touchdowns. He was recognized as a second-team freshman All-American from College Football news and received an honorable-mention All Big 12 accolades from the conference coaches.
"I think you lead by example and he has a great work ethic," Texas A&M Head Coach Mike Sherman said. "He brings that every day to practice as well as to the games. He has made an impact just by other guys watching how he works. This is something he has worked to become. He hasn't always been as strong, he has really stepped his game up. He is very determined."
Fuller continued to build his football resume his sophomore year as he led the team with seven receiving touchdowns and ranked third overall in yards, with 568. He managed to accomplish this despite having to miss four games due to a fractured right fibula he suffered in a game against Utah State.
He ranked second on all-time receiving TD list with 16, only three short of reaching Bob Long's school record which was set in 1968. He caught seven balls for a game-high 102 yards in the Independence Bowl against Georgia and also had a career high six catches for 132 yards against No. 3 Texas. Twenty nine of his 41 catches that year, equivalent to 71 percent, went for a first down or touchdown. He became A&M's second-leading active receiver with 1,198 career yards.
"Jeff has really grown into a dominant player," Sherman said. "I didn't feel that way necessarily last year. He was a good player, we counted on him and he made plays, but he has become more of a force this year. He had a great summer working. He had an excellent spring and preseason as well and he has put it all together. He still has some things he needs to work on but he has been a big play receiver for us since he got here."
Fuller certainly has been a big play receiver and doesn't show any signs of stopping.
"My freshman year, you just kind of do what you are told," Fuller said. "You don't really know the game enough to add your own mark here and there. So from my freshman year to now, there is definitely more confidence and I feel like I attack the game now instead of just playing the game."
He is currently on target to break every school record by a wide margin. Projected for a 12-game season, Fuller's current pace projects to 78.0 catches, 1,131.6 yards and 14 touchdowns. Current record holders at A&M include Rod Bernstine, who holds Texas A&M's season catches list record at 65, which was set in 1986. Robert Ferguson holds the season receiving yards at 885, set in 2000. Fuller will be looking to break his own record of season receiving touchdowns list, which he currently holds at 9, set in 2008.
He currently is ranked No. 5 in the Big 12 and No. 16 in the NCAA for receptions, averaging 6.5 catches a game. For receiving yards, he is ranked No. 4 in the Big 12 and No. 12 in the NCAA, averaging 94.3 a game. For receiving touchdowns, Fuller averages 7 a game, ranking him at No. 3 in the Big 12 and tied at No. 5 in NCAA.
His 130 catches have him listed at No. 2 in Texas A&M's 100 catch club, behind Terrence Murphy at 172. Jeff's 1,764 total receiving yards also holds him at the No.2 spot, behind Terrence Murphy yet again at 2,600. He holds the number one spot for Texas A&M's career receiving TDs list at 23.
Impressive to say the least, considering he is only halfway through his junior season.
"I'm just looking to get better, to continue to improve," Fuller said. "I don't have any exact numbers that I want. I just want to be the best player I can be."