Longhorns and Aggies battle over top linebacker recruit

Michael Shapiro

From 1894 to 2011, the Longhorns faced off against the Texas A&M Aggies a total of 118 times, holding a record of 76-37-5 against their in-state rivals. 

Although the rivalry is often deemed one of the best in college sports, the rivalry ended before the 2012 season, as the Aggies moved to the SEC, effectively ending the annual matchup between schools. Because of Texas A&M’s conference change, the Longhorns and Aggies have completely moved their battles off the field to the hotly contested recruiting sphere. 

But the stakes are uniquely high this season in the recruiting battle between the Longhorns and Aggies, as the top-ranked linebacker prospect in the nation is currently deciding whether to take his talents to Austin or College Station next fall. Malik Jefferson, the 6-foot-2-inch linebacker from Poteet High School in Mesquite, is not only the top-ranked linebacker prospect in the nation but is the second-ranked prospect in the entire state of Texas per Rivals.com.  

On Nov. 24, Jefferson tweeted out a picture with a list of the seven schools he was still considering. Jefferson’s list of schools comprised Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU and UCLA, but, according to most predictions, it is now a dead heat between the Longhorns and the Aggies for Jefferson’s services next year. Jefferson has visited LSU and Texas A&M and is currently in the process of scheduling a visit to come out to Austin to meet with head coach Charlie Strong and the rest of the Texas coaching staff.

Jefferson is touted as a hybrid defender who can play both outside linebacker and defensive end. In addition to rushing the quarterback, he was primarily used to aggressively attack the line of scrimmage. At “The Opening,” an esteemed camp for top recruits held in Oregon every July, Jefferson clocked in a 4.39-second 40-yard dash and recorded a 39.7-inch vertical leap — top marks for linebackers at the event. 

With a defense that will have five starters graduating in the spring — including linebackers Steve Edmond and Jordan Hicks — the Longhorns are looking for an influx of talent on the defensive side of the ball. And many believe Jefferson, with his remarkable athleticism and playmaking ability, to be a game changer — a player who could possibly shape the Longhorns defense in years to come. But only if Texas is able to attract the young star away from College Station.