In the 2015 recruiting class, the Texas Longhorns pulled off a stunner by grabbing one of the nation’s great Linebackers in Malik Jefferson.
Jefferson is something of a Pied Piper and people just follow him naturally.
Jefferson started from day one at Middle Linebacker for Texas. He’s a natural Outside Linebacker and an outstanding pass rusher off of the edge, but the coaches wanted him inside for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they wanted him involved in every play which is not possible on one side, or another. Even though he is more suited for an outside position, he is big and strong enough to play inside.
Another thing, Jefferson is a natural born leader and you generally want your leader on defense to call the defensive signals. Middle Linebackers are usually the Quarterbacks of the defense. People flock
to Malik Jefferson like Trekkies to a Star Trek convention.
Recently, according to Jeff Howe of 247Sports, Longhorn Outside Linebacker Naashon Hughes called Malik Jefferson the ‘perfect teammate’. Jefferson is an outstanding Linebacker, and he is everything else you would want in a football player both on and off the field.
Texas fans saw him as something of a savior when the Longhorns signed him. He was a sign of a turnaround for the Texas program so they could return to the upper echelon of the college football standings.
But, the Longhorns program was neglected for too long and they had to play as many as 18 freshmen in 2015. At times, they had 5 freshmen playing in the Defensive Backfield. Yet, they beat playoff bound Oklahoma and they beat Baylor. Mishaps and other issues cost them games against Cal Berkeley and Oklahoma State. Then, there was the listless disaster at Iowa State where they looked totally helpless and unmotivated.
It could even get worse before it gets better, although it’s almost as likely to get much better.
Some of the bigger problems were poor choices by previous coaching staffs with Quarterbacks and the lack of talent in the Offensive Line.
Charlie Strong has gone to great lengths to get these issues worked out by landing a great recruiting
class with Jefferson and his gang in 2015. But, they topped that in 2016 with the 7th ranked class in the country. That class was helped dramatically by the collapse of the Baylor recruiting class after the Art Briles scandal.
Besides Jefferson, the Longhorn staff brought in 4 star talents Linebacker Anthony Wheeler, Safety DeShon Elliott, Running Back Chris Warren III, Cornerbacks Holton Hill, Kris Boyd and Davante Davis. Plus, Offensive Linemen Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe and super Wide Receiver John Burt. Most of those guys started as true freshmen last season.
This year, they added 4 star players Linebackers Jeffrey McCulloch and Erick Fowler, super Wide Receivers Devin Duvernay and Collin Johnson, and Offensive Linemen Patrick Hudson, Jean Delance, JP Uriquidez and Denzel Okafor. Those impressive kids do not even include the impressive haul at Defensive Tackle and the nation’s top Safety prospect in Brandon Jones. Defensive Tackles Jordan Elliott, Chris Daniels, Marcel Southall, D’Andre Christmas-Giles and Gerald Wilbon will all be looking for some serious playing time and if they are as good as advertised they will see plenty of early playing time.
Malik Jefferson is one of the top young Linebackers in the country and he will be the leader of the defense for the next couple of seasons.