A third-year starter for the Longhorns, Malik Jefferson has been on the radar of NFL scouts since his first season at Texas, when he earned Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors. He makes his debut in the #CFBTop25 countdown after making 62 tackles, including 8.5 for loss (5.5 sacks), as a sophomore.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder (school measurements) is a rare athlete who's yet to fully unlock his potential. New Texas coach Tom Herman is moving Jefferson from inside to outside linebacker this year, which could help him take his game to another level.
CFB 24/7 is marking the days to the start of the 2017 season by counting down the top 25 players in college football.
1. USC QB Sam Darnold
2. Penn State RB Saquon Barkley
3. FSU S Derwin James
4. LSU OLB Arden Key
5. LSU RB Derrius Guice
6. Wyoming QB Josh Allen
7. Boston College DE Harold Landry
8. Houston DT Ed Oliver
9. Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
10. Texas OT Connor Williams
11. Clemson DL Christian Wilkins
12. UCLA QB Josh Rosen
13. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield
14. Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick
15. Clemson DT Dexter Lawrence
16. FSU CB Tarvarus McFadden
17. N.C. State DE Bradley Chubb
18. Alabama WR Calvin Ridley
19. Oklahoma OT Orlando Brown
20. Washington DT Vita Vea
21. Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk
22. SMU WR Courtland Sutton
23. Alabama DT Da'Ron Payne
24. Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough
25. Texas LB Malik Jefferson
Pulling back the curtain on the vote
Jefferson received votes from three of seven CFB 24/7 experts, including two top-15 votes. NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein ranks him the No. 3 linebacker to watch this season. The Mesquite, Texas, native was selected to the preseason watch lists for the Bednarik, Nagurski and Butkus awards.
What some of our analysts are saying about Jefferson
"Athletic outside linebacker with instincts, awareness and disruptive potential. Jefferson's versatility would make him a nice fit in a scheme that allows designated playmakers to hunt the ball from a variety of spots in base or nickel defenses." -- Bucky Brooks
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"There will be plenty of Derrick Johnson comparisons coming for Jefferson, who could play outside and inside at the next level. He'll become a national name if he's a more consistent playmaker as a junior." -- Chad Reuter
Where do fans rank Jefferson?
We asked Twitter users who they considered the best player in college football. Jefferson didn't receive a vote, which isn't a big surprise. Herman has kept him out of the media spotlight this year and while he's been on the radar for scouts since his freshman season, he hasn't posted the type of production that garners national attention. That could change in 2017.
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