Written by Corbett Smith
Mesquite Poteet junior Malik Jefferson, top-ranked 2015 recruit, and 'once-in-a-lifetime kid'
In October, Mesquite Poteet linebacker Malik Jefferson took a look at national recruiting rankings and admitted he was a little frustrated. While ranked in the Top 100, he wasn’t unanimously considered the top player in the state, or the top player at his position. Sure, it’s a contrived slight, Jefferson said, but sometimes you need a little extra something to keep striving to be the best.
“You want to be at the top — at least one day,” Jefferson said. “So you have to keep working for it. It’s just another motivation for myself, and I feel that it’s good to go off that.”
Combine that mind-set with a 6-3, 210-pound body with a sprinter’s speed, and it’s easy to see why college recruiters have been keen on Jefferson since 2012 — and why he’s the No. 1 recruit on SportsDay’s list of juniors.
“He is not even close to being as good as he can be,” Poteet coach Kody Groves said. “Every year, he’s getting better. I can’t imagine what he’s going to look like in four years.”
Jefferson’s development has dovetailed the sustained success of the Poteet program, which is 23-5 in his two varsity seasons.
He broke through as a sophomore, named to SportsDay’s All-Area team after registering 105 tackles, including 24 for loss. He duplicated that production in 2013 as a junior, with 93 tackles and 14 sacks — all while playing most of the season with a cast on, protecting ligament damage from a thumb injury.
Jefferson has more than 20 offers — including powerhouse programs such as Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, and nearly all of the Big 12.
“As good as a football player that he is, he’s a better kid — you don’t find many of those guys,” Groves said. “He wants to be the best. And he understands that it’s not just about football. He’s always asking the guys who come in. ‘What about life after football?’
“He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kid to coach.”