FAYETTEVILLE — Trajan Jeffcoat is a transfer to Arkansas, but he already knows what playing in the SEC is all about considering he spent the five past seasons at Missouri.
Jeffcoat, 6-4, 280, not only played for the Tigers, but was very successful. In 2020 as a redshirt sophomore, Jeffcoat was named first-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press and the league’s coaches. However, following the 2022 season, he opted to hit the transfer portal and eventually chose the Hogs over South Carolina and others.
“I loved that atmosphere in Arkansas,” Jeffcoat said. “The coaching staff, Coach Deke Adams, Coach T-Will (Travis Williams), Coach Pitt (Sam Pittman). They welcomed me with open arms, and I like the environment here. They cared about me as a person rather than a player, and I always wanted that. So, I really felt comfortable with the environment here. And that was very different from all my other calls to every other school. They actually cared about my well being. I really, really, really enjoyed hearing that from them.”
While his decision wasn’t that difficult at the end, getting a former coach to understand his name was a little more complicated. Jeffcoat has a nickname of Tree and explained on Thursday how that came about.
“It’s a long story,” Jeffcoat said. “It’s really a misunderstanding stemming from high school. My D-line coach from high school misunderstood what I was saying because I had a deeper voice. He asked me what’s my name? I was like, ‘Tra.’ He asked me again, ‘Your name’s Tree?’ I said, ‘No, it’s Tra.’ ‘Tree?’ ‘Tra.’ So, whole misunderstanding. Everybody started laughing around me, all my peers. That were like, ‘Hey, that’s your new nickname. It’ll stick with you.’ So, it was up ever since.”
Jeffcoat said he doesn’t have a preference once can call him Tree, Tra or Trajan. The way he plays on the field the word Mr. in front of his name might be appropriate.
“Trajan Jeffcoat is hard to block now,” Pittman said.
Trajan is one of six defensive ends who seemingly are very capable in the SEC. He admitted this is the most depth at defensive end of any team he’s played on.
“Yeah, the depth is pretty heavy,” Jeffcoat said. “Got a lot of talented guys. A lot of guys are making a lot of plays. Coach Deke Adams is doing a great job of coaching us, coaching our technique. So, I’m really feeling confident in us as a D-line, as a unit, and also as a defense. As a team broadly, I really enjoy the defense. I feel like during the games, we’re going to have a lot of ammunition. So, I feel like that’s pretty good.”
Jeffcoat joins Pitt transfer John Morgan III, Jashaud Stewart, Zach Williams, Nico Davillier and Landon Jackson at the end spots. Jeffcoat responded to Pittman saying he’s hard to block.
“I definitely want to just do what I can do and do my part on the defense,” Jeffcoat said. “I’m coming in with a lot of talented guys. I want to try to find my place and then help out the defense as well. I’m always going to bring what I can to help this defense. I enjoy this defense in how they’re very encouraging to everybody. So that helps the confidence level of everyone. So I appreciate that from everybody.”
One plus for Jeffcoat at Arkansas is quarterback KJ Jefferson is now a teammate. Jefferson has had some big games against Missouri’s defense and Jeffcoat.
“I see a bright future for him,” Jeffcoat said. “The offense as a whole, I see a very bright future for them. Their technique is getting better. Jefferson, I feel he’s really calling the right plays, making the right checks, O-line is doing the right thing with slide protection. So they’re doing a pretty good job overall. I definitely see a bright future for Jefferson and the rest of the offense as well.”
But teaming with Jefferson and playing on a line with depth isn’t the only bonuses for Jeffcoat now.
“The city of Fayetteville’s pretty cool,” Jeffcoat said. “It’s way better than Columbia, Missouri, where I was at prior. So I really enjoy being here, the atmosphere. Everyone is very loving. Everyone is very respectful as well, but one thing I will say, the favorite place here is Chick’nheadz, most definitely.”
Arkansas lost both its starting offensive tackles from 2022 so they will have younger players there now. Patrick Kutas and Devon Manuel are among them.
“They’ve been doing a pretty good job,” Jeffcoat said. “I’m understanding that they’re doing a better job at slide protection and things like that, so they’re really understanding the offense. They’re getting much better as an O-Line, so I feel like they’re doing their part.”
Jeffcoat and the Hogs will hold a noon scrimmage on Saturday and it’s open to the public. Jeffcoat talked about what he wants to show the fans on Saturday.
“I’m just trying to work hard, just do what I can do for the defense, do my part, and I’m excited to see the fans, ‘cause it be rocking here,” Jeffcoat said. “I’m really enjoying all red. I just want to see a lot of the fans here, do what I can do and do my part and then contribute.”
Jeffcoat and the Razorbacks will open the 2023 season on Saturday, Sept. 2, in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium when they host Western Carolina.