OXON HILL, Md. — Oxon Hill High School coach Craig Jefferies welcomed Daniel George to the program in 2014 as a freshman. An eventual 4-star prospect and Penn State signee, the young receiver quickly served notice of his football prowess.
Jefferies, who has helped produce top-tier college talent and future NFL players throughout his coaching career, recognized it almost immediately. Before recruiters began pounding on his door about the playmaker, Jefferies had visions of a former heavily pursued pupil when he saw George.
Arrelious Benn warranted consideration as America’s premier receiver recruit during his days at Dunbar (Washington, D.C.) High School, where Jefferies spent 15 seasons until his 2011 departure for a Division I job. The comparison came easily.
“Daniel reminded me so much of him. From a physical comparison, they look like the same guy,” Jefferies said. “As far as where their development was as freshmen, I thought Daniel may have been a little bit ahead because Arrelious came to me as a quarterback more or less.”
Dunbar produced a tremendous volume of talent during Jefferies’ tenure, including current Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis, Buffalo Bills cornerback Vontae Davis and former NFL Pro Bowl kick returner Josh Cribbs. Jefferies was no stranger to elite talent, trusted his gut and presented this comparison to others in the industry.
“He made some spectacular plays as a freshman and, especially with people who recruited Arrelious, they could see some of the same attributes,” Jefferies said. “It kind of blew up pretty soon for Daniel soon after that, as far as recruiting.”
Power 5 offers started arriving in bunches the following offseason. Penn State entered the mix midway through George’s junior year. He verbally committed to the Nittany Lions on July 16, 2017, then delivered career-high production that fall.
The statistical results were similar to Benn’s senior-season output in 2006, before he signed with Illinois.
Senior Season Comparison
Arrelious Benn (2006): 55 receptions for 1,042 yards and 9 touchdowns
Daniel George (2017): 61 receptions for 897 yards and 10 touchdowns
“He still has a lot to achieve to do what Arrelious has done,” Jefferies said. “They started off on an even slate, or maybe Daniel was slightly ahead, but the rest remains to be seen — if what I believe he’s capable of comes to fruition. He’s done a great job to this point.”
Benn, the 2007 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, secured 159 catches for 2,221 yards in three college seasons before departing early for the 2010 NFL Draft. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected him in the second round, and he’s played for two other franchises (Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars) through 2017.
Though Benn owns only 65 career NFL receptions, his professional presence has been exceptional. He served as a Jacksonville team captain last season en route to the AFC Championship Game.
“Arrelious’ character has really helped him during his NFL career,” Jefferies said. “He’s always a leader in the locker room, a leader in the receiver room, and those qualities Daniel shares.”
One of three receivers who signed with the Nittany Lions in December, George is preparing for June enrollment at Penn State. Duplicating Benn’s success as a Big Ten freshman is probably too much to ask, but Jefferies expects a strong start for his latest star player.
“He’s going to come in business as usual, the same as Arrelious,” he said. “Daniel will come in and compete. I have no doubt that will be the case. He’ll bring value, because of his size, to special teams, and his football IQ. From what I know about him and what I know about Division I football, he’s going to be in the hunt.”
Watch our Monday conversation with George here: