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5-star LB Malik Jefferson arrives at Texas

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Despite hopes from certain segments of the A&M fanbase, the state's top prospect never came close to flipping his commitment to the Aggies.

Malik Jefferson (left) after his pledge to Texas
Malik Jefferson (left) after his pledge to Texas
Mesquite ISD screenshot

The most important recruit of the Charlie Strong era for the Texas Longhorns is on campus with the arrival of five-star Mesquite Poetet linebacker Malik Jefferson.

A program-changing pledge from the 6'2.5, 215-pounder on December 19 helped bolster the 2015 recruiting class and prove that Strong could compete for the top recruits in the state in landing Texas' top prospect for the first time since 2010, when defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat was considered the top player in the state.

Most importantly, Strong was able to win over Jefferson's parents, who eventually convinced him of the benefits of going to Texas over Texas A&M. So when the Aggies didn't have a defensive coordinator in place in time for his decision and Jefferson found out that teammate DeAndre McNeal had decided he wanted to become a Longhorn, Jefferson decided that he would as well, sparking an impromptu celebration in McNeal's kitchen that resulted in a broken chair.

However, to assess Jefferson only in terms of his physical skills on the field and the difference his commitment and enrollment could have for the Texas program is to sell him completely short.

There didn't really need to be any more evidence to prove that Jefferson gets it, but then he took the opportunity to visit a local school on one of his last days in Mesquite:

The clear takeaway, once again -- Jefferson gets it. If he fails at Texas, it won't be because of a bad attitude or not going to class. He's not going to sabotage himself or break Strong's five core values.

The likely Will linebacker replacement for former five-star linebacker Jordan Hicks, the last elite recruit at the position the Horns landed, Jefferson's early enrollment may help Texas in recruiting, but will mostly help the 6'3, 215-pounder acclimate to the defensive scheme used by Texas and prepare him to contribute immediately once fall rolls around.

In watching Jefferson's senior film, what really stands out is his ability to deal with blockers stacking and shedding and discarding opponents who try to go low and take out his legs. In both situations, Jefferson is elite in his ability to use his hands and rally to the football with his elite first-step quickness and overall speed that will allow him to range sideline-to-sideline in college.

He'll probably be making a position switch from the 3-4 rush linebacker position he played in high school, but his film clearly illustrates the versatility that he could provide head coach Charlie Strong and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford in his deployment -- he could play as a Fox end if necessary because of his physicality and he could be an outstanding weak side linebacker because of his quickness and instincts.

The career of Hicks was derailed early because of injuries. If Jefferson manages to remain healthy and fulfill his massive potential as a high-floor, high-ceiling prospect, he'll have a career that significantly surpasses that of Hicks, the most heralded linebacker recruit for the Horns in a decade.

He's that good.

Welcome home, Malik.

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