As a sophomore, Malik Jefferson quickly became one of the state's biggest names, blowing up opponents' backfields and pacing an elite Mesquite Poteet defense. This year, he said he's found things a little more difficult.
"It's going slow, but it wasn't really a surprise that things would be going slow," Jefferson said. "Teams are scheming against me and running away from me. It's something I'll have to deal with the rest of my high school career, probably."
Jefferson is hardly the only high school defensive star to find life more difficult after exploding onto the scene. In interviews conducted earlier this season, Texas commitments Derick Roberson and Trey Lealaimatafao both remarked that they had to fight through a ton more cut-blocks this season.
"It's really frustrating,"Jefferson said. "I'm not making the plays that I was last year. And I feel at times like I'm not put in the best position. I need to be on both sides of the field."
Jefferson was also frustrated earlier this season when Texas let defensive coordinator Manny Diaz go. The linebacker had grown close to Diaz, and said that he quickly went into "no comment" mode after the demotion.
"It was a big deal for me the day that happened," Jefferson said. "The main guy I was dealing with was Coach Diaz. At the time I didn't really have any comments to make, but now I feel like it's time to move on, watch the guy who is next in line and accept what happened. I had a chance to talk to Coach [Greg] Robinson."
Jefferson said he hadn't seen Robinson in person until Robinson attended his football game recently, and the two have talked on the phone.
"He's a really nice guy," Jefferson said. "He's getting the job done."
Jefferson had an up-close view of Robinson's job when he attended Saturday's Texas-Oklahoma game at the Cotton Bowl.
"I was really impressed," Jefferson said. "It was like they wanted to play."
While a lot of players who attend those games look to see their own schematic fit, Jefferson said he hasn't had that discussion with the Texas staff just yet. So that made him more of a fan when watching the game on Saturday, though he didn't root for either team, as both Texas and Oklahoma are hot on his heels for his services.
"I was mostly paying attention to the game to see what Texas was going to do," Jefferson said. "I didn't really go there to scout my position or anything."
In all, the experience was a positive one, and might have helped Texas to climb back into the race a bit for his services. Jefferson has only made one other visit this season — one to Texas A&M — a visit that he called "very, very impressive."
Still, don't expect a favorites list (or a favorite in general) from the Mesquite Poteet linebacker — Jefferson still has a long decision-making process in front of him in which he's going to consider every factor at-hand. And while he was impressed by what the Longhorns did on Saturday, he's not the kind of player to make a hot-blooded decision.
"I'm kind of neutral," Jefferson said. "I'm different. I'm going to choose whichever place is best for me. Nobody is standing out right now."