Born: April 1, 1961
James Wilson Jeffcoat Jr. was born April 1, 1961 in Long Branch and grew up in Matawan. Tall, muscular and agile, he excelled in basketball and football, and later, at Matawan Regional High School, in wrestling. In 1978, Jim earned prep All-America honors and was the target of several major college recruiters. He accepted a scholarship from longtime Arizona State coach Frank Kush, who left the program before Jim’s freshman season.
In 1980, new coach Daryl Rogers made Jim a starter at defensive end for the Sun Devils. They started the year with a win over Houston, a Top 10 school, but fell to Ohio State and USC—two of the best teams in the country. They finished 7–4. In 1981, Jim helped Arizona State go 9–2 and finish with a #16 ranking. He earned honorable mention Pac-10 honors. Jim blossomed into one of the nation’s top defensive ends as a senior in 1982. He was a major reason the Sun Devils led the nation with 228 yards per game. Jim’s final college game was a 32–21 win over Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. He was named Defensive Player of the Game.
The 1983 NFL Draft is famous for the quarterbacks it produced, but Jim was one of nine defensive players taken in the first round. The Dallas Cowboys selected him with the 23rd overall pick. After a year on the bench, he moved into the starting lineup, replacing Harvey Martin at right defensive end and registering 11.5 sacks. In 1985, Jim sacked Joe Theismann five times in a game against the Redskins, tying a team record set by Bob Lilly in 1966. In 1986, Jim had a personal-best 14 sacks. In 1989, he had 11.5 sacks and a total of 100 tackles.
The Cowboys spent most of the 1980s rebuilding. By the early 1990s, they returned to their winning ways. In 1992, Jim led the team with 10.5 sacks and helped Dallas win the Super Bowl. The Cowboys won a second Super Bowl in 1993, but by then he was used almost exclusively on passing downs. In 1995, Jim signed a free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills. He played three more seasons, finishing his NFL career with 102.5 sacks.
From 1998 to 2005, Jim coached the Cowboys’ defensive linemen. Having played for Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer, and coached under Chan Gailey, Dave Campo and Bill Parcells, he had the distinction of being the only man to serve under each of Dallas’s first six coaches. After his stint with the Cowboys, Jim served on the coaching staffs of the University of Houston, San Jose State and Colorado. Jim also established an insurance agency in his post-NFL years. Jim’s son, Jackson, was an All-American defensive end at the University of Texas in 2013 and projects as an NFL linebacker.