"We had a good spring practice," Malik Jefferson said. "Everything went pretty well. Everybody had their chemistry down. We had a lot of kids who didn't play last year on varsity. Most of our defense was made up of seniors, so we've had to replace a lot of people."
With all of those new players, Jefferson said it fell to him to lead the team.
"I'm excited," Jefferson said. "I have a lot of people looking up to me. I want to lead my team to victory at state."
He'll have a chance to do so under a coach who understands his potential. New Poteet head coach Kody Groves was the team's defensive coordinator last year, and was a big part of the reason Poteet put a nasty defense on the field. Groves, who took over for Randy Jackson — now at Plano East — also had success coaching at Coppell, Midland Lee and Midlothian.
"He was a great guy at DC last year," Jefferson said. "Our defense was ranked No. 1 at one point.
"I'll be playing the same role this year," Jefferson said. "But more of a defensive leader. I'll be showing out and playing hard."
Jefferson said his main goal as a leader was to express confidence.
"I feel like if I wasn't so confident, we wouldn't be as successful, if that makes any sense," Jefferson said. "If we want to win a title, we have to live up to a standard. We have to act, we have to work out, we have to do everything like a team that believes it's a state championship team."
Poteet wasn't far off last year, going 11-3 and falling 21-13 to Lancaster in the state quarterfinals. Lancaster was the eventual state runner-up. Jefferson played a huge role with 25 tackles for loss and seven sacks. A 215-pounder with a 40-yard dash clocked in the 4.4s, Jefferson emerged as one of the top prospects in Texas for the 2015 class. Of course, recruiting attention followed.
"It's been pretty exciting," Jefferson said. "While getting more offers would be exciting, the offers I have are already good enough. I could live with the offers I have. I just still have to go through the process."
Indeed, those hoping for a quick commitment will likely be disappointed. Jefferson wants to take the time to make sure he's making the right decision. He has offers from Texas, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Oregon and Cal, among others. He said the Alabama coaches have also tried to get him to come to campus, likely so that the Crimson Tide can join his offer list, though he said he wasn't sure he could make it to Tuscaloosa. And he'd like to hear more from LSU.
Jefferson enjoyed his camp visit to Ole Miss earlier this summer, and he visited the Longhorns this spring for Texas's Sophomore Day.
"It was really nice," Jefferson said of his Texas visit. "I've been there plenty of times, but not actually really around the campus like that. It was pretty amazing."
Still, don't expect the Longhorns to have an easy go of it. Jefferson plans to research all of the schools that interest him and will visit several schools before making his choice.
"Honestly, I'm still really open," Jefferson said.