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Vikings 1st-Rounders Jefferson & Gladney Continuing Admiration From Afar

EAGAN, Minn. — Justin Jefferson and Jeff Gladney didn't get to square off against one another in college because LSU and TCU last met in 2013, before the Vikings 2020 first-round selections joined the Tigers and Horned Frogs.

Their status as new teammates means the only competition between the two will now be in eventual practices once the Vikings and NFL teams resume on-field operations.

That doesn't, however, mean that they are complete strangers. The pair of 2020 first-round picks recently said that they followed each other from afar throughout college, especially as both turned in strong 2019 seasons.

"I heard about Jeff a few times and I watched some of the TCU games," said Jefferson, who was a star wide receiver for the Tigers. "I was definitely was familiar with him, and I never thought we'd be on the same team and competing with one another.

"I'm definitely excited to see what he does on the other side of the ball," Jefferson added. "As rookies, we have to turn up this year."

Gladney, a standout cornerback for the Horned Frogs, added: "I watched his YouTube highlights a lot … I knew of him. I always said he was a good player, and I always felt they slept on you a little bit."

Gladney then quipped that Jefferson's surname is actually tied to his own family.

"What's crazy is that my people on my momma's side are named Jefferson, so I was wondering if I was related to this dude," Gladney said with a laugh. "Then we got picked up by the same team, and it was crazy."

Added Jefferson: "We have to check in on that!"

The first-rounders recently caught up with Gabe Henderson of for a Rookie Mini-Chat. The players discussed the unusual start to their NFL careers and how they have been keeping busy.

Both Jefferson and Gladney said they prefer to learn by doing, but are adapting to different circumstances and not being able to be involved in practices right now.

"It's all sort of new. I'm not used to having camp over the computer. I'm waking up in the morning, going to the iPad for meetings for three to four hours," Jefferson said. "It's all been kind of new for us.

"For me, I learn better walking through plays and being in practice with those guys," Jefferson added, "so this is something we have to get [through] and find out who is dedicated individually."

Added Gladney: "It's really different, with it being visual now. I'm more of a hands-on guy, so not being able to go out and walk through it on the field kind of adds difficulty to it. But you have to attack the day, and this is the way we're going to attack it."

Both players said they have been immersed in meetings, plus watching highlights online to try and pick up techniques from others around the league.

"I have a lot of free time on my hands, so I've been watching highlights and big-time receivers in this league," Jefferson said. "Just going out there and trying something new. Just trying new things and trying to improve my game every little step of the way."

Added Gladney: "I've just been working out, doing drills. Like he said about taking from other people, just sprinkling it around. I've been working on my footwork with my personal trainer, so we pull up videos on YouTube all the time."

Outside of football, both said they play video games during down time. Jefferson and Gladney also told Henderson that they haven't given much thought to what their first purchase will be with their rookie contract.

View photos of LSU WR Justin Jefferson who was selected by the Vikings in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Jefferson said: "I'm just trying to get into the league and solidify myself before I worry about spending money."

Added Gladney: "Same here. I've never been too materialistic, and my parents aren't either."

Jefferson compiled one of the best receiving seasons in LSU history in 2019 as a junior. He tied for the national lead and set a school single-season record with 111 catches and finished second in the country overall with 18 touchdown receptions, which trailed only Tigers teammate Ja'Marr Chase's 20.

He was third in FBS with 1,540 receiving yards and helped the Tigers win the College Football Playoff National Championship.

View photos of TCU CB Jeff Gladney who was selected by the Vikings in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Gladney, a First-Team All-Big 12 selection, started 10 of 12 games in 2019, totaling 31 tackles (24 solo), one interception and 1.5 tackles for loss. His 14 passes defensed led the conference.

The duo was also quizzed on various topics such as Gladney's college major and what locker number Jefferson was assigned as a true freshman at LSU.