No. 1 LB Malik Jefferson commits to Texas Longhorns with teammate DeAndre McNeal
The Longhorns had a huge recruiting day on Friday.
On Friday morning in a ceremony at Mesquite (Texas) Poteet, five-star linebacker Malik Jefferson made the decision to change the trajectory of the Texas Longhorns program, committing to head coach Charlie Strong minutes after his teammate, four-star wide receiver DeAndre McNeal.
— Orangebloods.com (@OBWire) December 19, 2014
He chose Texas over Texas A&M and UCLA, a final three that he revealed through the clothes he wore to school from Tuesday through Thursday.
The 6’2, 215-pounder will enroll in January.
Ranked as the No. 13 player nationally, Jefferson is the top outside linebacker nationally and the No. 1 player in the state of Texas, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
As a five-star prospect and the top outside linebacker in the country, there aren’t many concerns about Jefferson.
One of the concerns that does exist, however, concerns his frame. Though Jefferson is 6’3 and 215 pounds, he doesn’t have the ideal wide shoulders of many other top outside linebacker prospects, something that could limit his physical development.
The other concern is that Jefferson is almost exclusively a downhill player against the run and pass in high school. This means that he doesn’t appear to have a great deal of experience in coverage, based on his high school film. It may take him some time in college to adjust to taking those drops and turning and running with opponents in coverage, though he did acquit himself well in 7-on-7 last summer when he was playing the safety position and forced to play in much more space than he does in high school.
Jefferson does excel in his role for Poteet, where he is asked to aggressively attack the line of scrimmage on what appears to be virtually every play. In short areas, his quickness is elite, as well as his change of direction, which can allow him to both elude and defeat blockers.
In fact, while Jefferson may have a learning curve in dealing with offensive linemen at the second level in college, there’s already plenty of evidence that he can use his strength to beat smaller players and a combination of his strength and quickness to beat bigger players.
The explosiveness that he shows in coming downhill translates to a wide tackling radius that allows Jefferson to make plays even if he doesn’t take an ideal angle. His lateral quickness may be his best attribute.
There are a couple of question marks with Jefferson in regards to his frame and coverage ability, but he’s such a good athlete and so good coming downhill that even if he struggles early in college to put it together as a complete linebacker, he’ll still have a lot of value in a more narrow, attacking role.
The commitment could be a program-changer for the Longhorns and head coach Charlie Strong, with Jefferson possessing the ability to bring other recruits with him to Austin.