There's no longer any shadow of a doubt that Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong is a fantastic closer, but during his National Signing Day press conference, he was quick to note that the players were the best salesmen in this recruiting cycle.
And, with all due respect to active recruiters like DeShon Elliott and Charles Omenihu, none of them sell the school as well as Malik Jefferson. According to linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator Brian Jean-Mary, a noted recruiter himself, that ability has earned Jefferson quite the moniker:
Texas recruiting coordinator Brian Jean-Mary: "We give Malik a lot of credit because he is the unofficial mayor of Austin."— Max Olson (@max_olson) February 3, 2016
The revelation even prompted a tweet from the actual mayor of Austin:
But not the official one, right? https://t.co/OQ4gYOYpju— Mayor Steve Adler (@MayorAdler) February 3, 2016
Not yet, bro, but watch out. Dude is pretty electable right now.
There's no question that Jefferson had an impact on the class as a whole, but he's also been one of the players Strong commended for stepping forward and asking to host recruits on visits. Starting with the 2015 class when he was an early enrollee, his track record as a host is both impressive and quickly burgeoning:
Aye I'm 3 for 3— Malik Jefferson 4⃣6⃣ (@Official_MalikJ) February 2, 2016
4 for 4!!! ✊— Malik Jefferson 4⃣6⃣ (@Official_MalikJ) February 3, 2016
There wasn't a leader in the 2016 class like Jefferson was with the 2015 group, but it's worth repeating that Malikmas is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Without landing the former five-star prospect in December of 2014, the finish to the 2015 class wouldn't have been possible and the finish to this class wouldn't have been possible.
The take at the time was that if Strong does get Texas back to the top, the moment that Jefferson pledged on December 19 would be seen as the turning point. Since then, there hasn't been any reason to doubt that belief -- is still looks like the possible turning point. The results on the field were certainly mixed last year, but the young talent was apparent and there's now even more talent to add to the mix.
If the Longhorns can show some improvement on the field this year, there should be another class just as good as the last two. Maybe even better.
Strong just has to make sure that Jefferson hosts the guys he really wants to land. Because the unofficial mayor of Austin will get them in burnt orange.