NCF On The Trail: Malik Jefferson

Under Armour All-American Malik Jefferson is now the top-rated prospect in Charlie Strong's 2015 class. Below, find out what Jefferson brings to the improving Texas Longhorns defense:

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

December, 16, 2014
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It was a busy weekend in the Pac-12, with commitments, offers, visits and awards touching nearly every team in the conference, including Stanford, USC and Washington reeling in big commitments and UCLA hosting impact prospects. Here is a look at some of the more impactful events of the past few days, as well as a glimpse of what this week could hold in the Pac-12.


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Early Offer: The dead period is here 

December, 14, 2014
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What is the dead period and why is it an important time in football recruiting? Plus, Texas Tech’s loss at quarterback could be Baylor’s gain.

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Best of the visits: Pac-12

December, 14, 2014
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The final weekend before the month-long dead period saw a number of official visitors on Pac-12 campuses. Here is a look at those trips through the eyes of the recruits on social media.

Hollywood in Westwood

UCLA hosted ESPN 300 prospect Malik Jefferson and four-star athlete DeAndre McNeal from Texas, and the Lone Star State prospects were introduced to life in Los Angeles via an encounter with actress Kerry Washington. While McNeal tweeted about the meeting, Jefferson, the nation's No. 35 recruit, snapped a picture of his mother meeting the actress.
The visitors to UCLA were also treated to a basketball game at Pauley Pavilion, from where McNeal delivered this tweet. The Bruins have made their presence felt in Texas the past few years and grabbing commitments from these two would send a significant message about head coach Jim Mora's recruiting momentum.

UCLA also hosted wide receiver commit L.J. Reed on his official visit. Cal's big weekend

From the looks of the photo tweeted by Cal quarterback Ross Bowers, the Golden Bears hosted at least nine official visitors this weekend. The Golden Bears have 15 commitments with room for several more. Bowers was joined on the trip by juco defensive end and Washington State commit DeVante Wilson, Duke commit and dual-threat quarterback DePriest Turner and tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe, among others. Utes host local linebacker

It's a big year for talent in Utah and the Utes look like they'll miss out on the three big ESPN 300 prospect in state -- Andre James, Osa Masina and Porter Gustin. After losing a commitment from four-star offensive tackle Branden Bowen, it'll be important for Utah to land several in-state prospects, as they have just one commitment from any of the top-10 prospects in Utah.

This past weekend, the Utes hosted linebacker Christian Folau -- a former Stanford commit -- and are among the top three programs for him. Trojans chasing Ross

USC gained a significant commitment from ESPN 300 tight end Tyler Petite on Friday, then hosted a trio of recruits over the weekend, including ESPN 300 athlete Ykili Ross. Capable of playing cornerback or safety, Ross looks to be a primary target for USC head coach Steve Sarkisian down the stretch. The Trojans also brought in athletic director Pat Haden during the trip. Buffs bring in commits

After an impressive showing last weekend that eventually netted two commitments, Colorado posted another big weekend, with a number of verbal commitments making the trip. ESPN 300 lineman Timmy Lynott is the most important commitment in Colorado's class, and was on hand. The Buffs also received an official visit from four-star running back Donald Gordon, who appeared to very much enjoy the trip.

Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

December, 12, 2014
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It's the last opportunity for college coaches to host official visitors before the month-long dead period begins Monday, and Pac-12 campuses will be full of top prospects this weekend. Virtually every Pac-12 program is hosting an important weekend, with ESPN 300 prospects scheduled to visit at least four schools in the conference.


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Wisconsin landed a four-star running back on Thursday despite not having a head coach. Plus, Nebraska is already impressing rival recruiters with its effort on trail.


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David Cutcliffe of Duke said young coaches should turn to Kenny Rogers for advice on how to get ahead on the recruiting trail. Plus, Florida's Jim McElwain has been busy since he was hired.

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SMU’s move to hire Texas native Chad Morris will pay off big time on the recruiting trail. Plus, you have to really give credit to UAB coach Bill Clark for the recruiting job he did while his administrators were shuttering his program.


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Early Offer: Malik Jefferson's final 7 

November, 24, 2014
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Malik Jefferson reduced his list to seven schools on Monday, and though the list is hardly a surprise, recruiters think there are still some in store with the No. 35 player in the country.

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Early Offer: Who will land Soso Jamabo? 

November, 20, 2014
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Soso Jamabo loved visits to UCLA and Notre Dame, but is it too early to count out the Texas schools? Plus, NC State added a key pledge on Wednesday that should give the Wolfpack much-needed help on the offensive line.

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Big 12 recruiting scorecard

November, 17, 2014
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Here is what's happening on the recruiting trail around the Big 12 this week:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 12
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: As if Wide Receiver U needed any more help, the Bears appear to have found a stud for their 2016 class. Navasota (Texas) junior receiver Tren'Davian Dickson, who committed to Baylor in July, recorded 230 receiving yards and four touchdown receptions this weekend, extending his season TD total to 28.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: It's been a tough month so far for the Cyclones' recruiting class after junior college recruits Xavier Pegues, Tristan Nickelson and Larry Jefferson each backed out of their pledges. Those departures don't mean this class is falling apart, but it's a reminder that Iowa State might have to fight to keep some of its recruits who could be hearing from other schools.

KANSAS
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Junior college athlete Cory Butler flipped from Utah to Kansas this summer. He went back to Utah last week, committing to the Utes after taking an official visit. Butler could've been a receiver or defensive back for Kansas out of Los Angeles Harbor College, but he says he'll play cornerback at Utah.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Kansas State is one of the many programs lining up to get an official visit from big-time junior college receiver Dede Westbrook. He visited Oklahoma State on Saturday, says he'll be at Oklahoma this upcoming weekend and is scheduled to visit Manhattan on Nov. 28.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: Oklahoma is one of the many schools pushing to land ESPN 300 linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. after he decommitted from Michigan this month. After taking his official visit to Norman last week, his next trip is expected to be to Tennessee. Getting the linebacker from Indianapolis on campus was huge, but Oklahoma is in for a fight to land him.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 15
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: Oklahoma State's brutal offensive line play has a lot to do with its current four-game losing streak, but the good news is help is on the way. The Pokes still have five offensive linemen committed for 2015, including juco tackles Brandon Pertile and Deya Mhiesen, who could help immediately. And despite their slide on the field this season, Oklahoma State has yet to take any hits to its recruiting class.

TCU
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Horned Frogs are making an effort to get back in the mix with ESPN 300 receiver Ryan Newsome. The 5-foot-8 speedster and elite returner has taken visits to Ole Miss, Tennessee, Oklahoma and UCLA recently, but is still considering Texas and the possibility to staying close to home.

TEXAS
Total commits: 18
ESPN 300 commits: 9
The latest: Three big-time commits -- Toby Weathersby, DeShon Elliott and Du'Vonta Lampkin -- took a visit to Texas A&M this weekend, but they remain committed to Texas. The Longhorns' top recruiting target, Malik Jefferson, was also on an official visit to watch A&M's rain-drenched 34-27 loss to Missouri.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Despite the loss to Oklahoma, Texas Tech had a big-time recruiting weekend for its home finale. Early signee Breiden Fehoko made the trip from Hawaii along with ESPN 300 guard Fred Ulu-Perry Jr., a UCLA commit. The Red Raiders also got the final official visit of four-star safety Kahlil Haughton.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 22
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Mountaineers get a great opportunity to win over some recruits with their home game Thursday night against Kansas State. Two ESPN Junior 300 recruits, defensive end Rahshaun Smith receiver Steven Smothers, are expected to be in attendance. Considering how critical the state of Maryland is to West Virginia's recruiting efforts, getting two of that state's best for 2016 in town would be huge.
Star 2016 DT Edwin Alexander backed away from an early pledge to LSU, but expect his next pledge to stick this time around. The battle for ESPN 300 offensive guard Joshua Wariboko will come down to two schools.


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Around this time last year, TCU was near the bottom of the Big 12 barrel. The Horned Frogs were fresh off an overtime loss to West Virginia, which ultimately meant being in the middle of losing five of their last six games.

In short, the Horned Frogs weren’t taken seriously. Not by opponents. Not by analysts. Not by many of their fans.

And especially, not by star recruits.

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Oregon is still working hard on its 2015, but that hasn't stopped the Ducks from landing quality 2016 targets like receiver Dillon Mitchell. Plus, why is Branden Bowen important to both Ohio State and Utah's 2015 class?

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UA jersey tour: Malik Jefferson

November, 4, 2014
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MESQUITE, Texas -- As he sat with his family and his head coach during the Under Armour All-America Game jersey ceremony Tuesday morning, ESPN 300 linebacker Malik Jefferson thought about the road traveled to get to where he is as a football player.

In short, he described it as “a blessing,” and he thought about the people in his life who may have indirectly affected his football career. He thought about his older brother, Tarik Jefferson, a senior linebacker at North Texas.

To be an Under Armour All-American takes sacrifice -- and sacrifice is something Malik said he learned mostly from his big brother. On and off the field.

“He gave me the motivation to work hard,” said Jefferson, the nation’s No. 3 outside linebacker and No. 35 player overall in the 2015 ESPN 300. “I work hard on my own because he wanted to work hard by myself. I remember he would ask me to sit on his back while he did push-ups. He instilled hard work in me and showed me the way. I took notes from Day One. He’s quiet but a hard worker.”


Jefferson the student is now Jefferson the teacher as he prepares for college. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Jefferson is an absolute playmaker on the field. Few linebackers his size run the 40-yard dash in less than 4.5 seconds. He clocked a 4.39 at The Opening this summer in Oregon.

With more than 30 offers to choose from, Jefferson, a three-year starter for Poteet High School in Mesquite, Texas, is looking at schools such as Texas, Texas A&M, TCU and Baylor, as well as out-of-state schools Alabama, Oregon and Stanford. Jefferson will announce his college plans Dec. 19.

Tuesday’s ceremony, sponsored by American Family Insurance, was icing on the cake for an outstanding high school career.

“I’m very appreciative of everything, and it’s a blessing to know that [Under Armour is] recognizing my true talents,” Jefferson said. “I can’t wait to get there, have fun and compete against the best of the best.”

He then added: “Oh, and to work my tail off.”

Quick hits on Malik Jefferson:

Why do you wear your football number? “I wear No. 46 because of my big brother (Tarik). He wore it in high school, so I took after him.”

Best UA game player:Jadeveon Clowney. Or Julio Jones. He’s an animal.”

Favorite football player:Von Miller. He follows me on Twitter. I was excited when I got that follow.”

In any sport, which celebrity would you challenge? “Drake in basketball. He doesn’t have a jump shot.”

Did you know ... Jefferson is very active with his church. He is a part of a miming group that does a form of interpretive dance.

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