By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 20, 2011; 9:21 PM
Craig Jefferies, who turned Dunbar High's football team into one of the Washington area's most visible programs and nurtured the growth of several future NFL players, has stepped down after 15 seasons and is expected to become an assistant coach at the University of New Mexico.
Jefferies, 54, has already submitted his retirement papers as a teacher with D.C. Public Schools. Jefferies acknowledged he has retired from teaching and coaching at Dunbar, but declined to comment on any future employment. His appointment as New Mexico's wide receivers coach is expected to be finalized within the next month, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.
Jefferies has enjoyed a long-standing friendship with New Mexico Coach Mike Locksley, a Ballou graduate. Several of Jefferies's former players have followed Locksley, from when he was an assistant at Maryland and Illinois, as well as New Mexico. At least four former Dunbar players are expected to be on the Lobos' roster next season.
Prior to Jefferies taking over in 1996, Dunbar was a solid program but had won one D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association championship and had reached the title game four other times.
Starting with a championship in 1998, Dunbar had a streak of 11 consecutive appearances in the Thanksgiving Day title game, the Turkey Bowl.
Jefferies shared a record with Bob Headen by winning eight titles. That includes four in a row (1998-2001), a record it shares with Eastern (1958-61). Like Jefferies, Headen won a combined eight titles at Cardozo and H.D. Woodson.
Jefferies's teams went a combined 126-48-1. He was named All-Met Coach of the Year in 1999.
Among the players who helped Dunbar win those championships were quarterback Joshua Cribbs (All-Met 2000), who is an all-pro kick returner for the Cleveland Browns; the Davis brothers, tight end Vernon (All-Met 2002) and cornerback Vontae (All-Met 2005), who star for the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins, respectively; and wide receiver Arrelious Benn (All-Met 2005, '06), a rookie wide receiver with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jefferies, who graduated from Dunbar in 1975, has been interested in a college position in recent years. He was a candidate for head coach at Howard in 2007 and again last month, before former Bowie State assistant Gary Harrell was selected.
Jefferies joins a program that Locksley has bolstered with nine Washington-area products, but has yet to see much results. Since Locksley took over the program in December 2008, the Lobos have posted consecutive 1-11 seasons.
Locksley's strength, though, has been in his recruiting, and the players he has brought in are expected to begin playing more prominent roles in 2011.