INDIANAPOLIS — Former LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson found himself at the center of controversy immediately following LSU’s College Football Playoff title win over Clemson last month when Cleveland Browns star Odell Beckham Jr., himself a former LSU star, was captured on video handing Jefferson a fist full of cash on the field. At the time, Jefferson had not declared early eligibility for the NFL draft, which drew questions about the exchange being an NCAA violation.
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Jefferson acknowledged it as a mistake during his NFL Scouting Combine press conference on Tuesday, adding that he spoke to both Beckham and LSU’s compliance office in the aftermath of the video.
"A lot of people made a big deal, but it was really just the heat of the moment. (Beckham and I) talked about it after the fact, and we both had some words about it. I mean, we shouldn’t have done it, but it was really just the heat of the moment," Jefferson said. "We had some doubts about it. We knew we shouldn’t have done it."
Jefferson’s widely expected early draft entry left no issue of eligibility, but nevertheless, his meeting with LSU compliance officials led him to turn Beckham’s cash into charity.
"I just gave that money back to my church," Jefferson said. "I donated that money to them, just to show that money really didn’t mean that much to me."
Jefferson enjoyed a breakout season at LSU last year as one of QB Joe Burrow’s top targets. He caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns, including 106 yards against Clemson in the championship game. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah ranks Jefferson the No. 16 overall prospect available in his most recent top-50 list.
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