KATY, Texas – There's always a "tell."
When playing cards, there is always a "tell" – someone touching their face or looking away from the dealer.
In football, the good ones can recognize the "tell."
Katy's Malick Sylla is the next "freak." Every time he lines up against an opposing offensive lineman, they give away the "tell" every time.
Who wouldn't against a 6-foot-6, 235-pound defensive end who also runs the open 200-meters in track.
"When guys line up against me, I see them shaking," the sophomore laughs. "Because of my speed, they are trying to beat me to where I'm going. The start shaking and leaning early to the side they are going. As soon as they do that, it's over."
You have to be elite if you are going to crack the starting lineup at Katy… as a sophomore.
During a scrimmage against Klein Collins last summer, Sylla played 10 plays and had five sacks.
"That pretty much cemented my spot," he said. "My first game was against North Shore. After that game film got out, I saw double-teams the rest of the season. (Katy) Taylor has two national recruits on their offensive line and they were calling out where I was the whole game."
When not working on football, running track or playing pick-up basketball, the second-team, all-district selection is watching film on his favorite players.
"I like Myles Garrett and Chase Young," he said. "K'Lavon Chaisson played at North Shore and is getting ready to get drafted. There is a guy from around here who trained with my personal trainer. He said that at my age, that this guy was stronger than me -- but I'm faster."
That guy? Minnesota Viking Danielle Hunter, who played at Morton Ranch and LSU. Hunter is a two-time NFL Pro Bowler and has 48 consecutive starts and 36 sacks over that period of time.
Not a bad comparison.
"My ultimate goal is to go to the league," he said. "I'm going to be looking for a college that will build around me. I want to fit into a defensive scheme that will give me some freedom on the outside. You know, get loose on the edge."
While his future is bright, Katy is all about the program under the direction of Gary Joseph.
"Being at Katy is great," Sylla said, who moved from the Alief-area in the eighth-grade. "You always know that Coach Joseph has your back. Having him on the sideline just gives you a lot of confidence. I mean, he's won four state championships."
But don't misunderstand him, Sylla has goals.
"I'd like to be an Under Armour All-American and a five-star athlete," he said. "I want to be the No. 1 player in Texas and break the Katy record for sacks. I want to do some things that haven't been done before."
Well, Houston-area football – Sylla has just given you his “tell.”