On Saturday, March 16 at Garnet and Black Traditions in Cayce, S.C., Gamecock fans received a treat when former South Carolina football star Alshon Jeffery held an autograph session.
The current Chicago Bears wide receiver spent about three hours signing footballs, jerseys, photographs and more while also taking pictures with fans. It wasn’t the first time this year that Jeffery went out of his way to reach out to the University. In April, Jeffery made an appearance at the South Carolina women’s basketball team hotel in Tampa, Florida as the Gamecocks were preparing to play in the Final Four. Jeffery made the trip down to support the Gamecocks and interact with the fans.
The visit to Garnet and Black Traditions was another chance for Jeffery to stay connected to Gamecock fans while also returning to his home state.
“It feels great,” Jeffery said. “It’s a good feeling to see fans come out and show their support so it’s also a good feeling for me to come out and show my support to them.”
Jeffery, a St. Matthews, S.C. native, isn’t able to return home much because of his busy NFL schedule, but says that he tries to make it back as much as he can. Despite leaving the Gamecocks four years ago, Jeffery still makes a concerted effort to stay connected not only with the University, but also the entire state.
“I’m from South Carolina so I always want to give back,” Jeffery said. “Being from South Carolina, there’s not a lot of well-known or big-time people so I’m just trying to do my part to represent the state.”
While most of the fans in attendance were wearing Gamecock gear, there were a fair share of Chicago Bear fans there as well. Jeffery chatted with the fans and even gave a little Gamecock fan a fist bump. A lot of people shared their favorite memories when Jeffery was in college and wished him luck on the upcoming NFL season.
Jeffery said he can’t wait for another season to start up with the Bears, who look a lot different than last year. There’s a lot of new faces on the team and some familiar ones gone, most notably wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who’s now with the New York Jets. There’s also a new coach, John Fox, who came over from the Denver Broncos and was formerly head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
With Marshall gone, Jeffery is now the go-to man for quarterback Jay Cutler. In three seasons with the Bears, Jeffery has caught 198 passes for 2,921 yards and 20 touchdowns. His touchdown total has improved every season and this year, he has a great chance to make another Pro Bowl after getting his first one two seasons ago.
“Just to be Alshon and take it one day at a time and keep working hard,” Jeffery said of his mindset for the upcoming season.
There’s no doubt that there will be a lot of eyes in South Carolina trained on the city of Chicago to watch the talented receiver continue to accomplish his dreams.
**Story and photo by Kyle Heck**