Now that 2008 is officially over and we officially turn our eyes toward recruiting (in one month) and spring football (in two), I thought we could take the time to talk about each unit on the team and how it's shaping up for 2009. One exciting thing about 2009 in comparison to 2008 is, well, there's more to talk about and debate.
Blaine Gabbert (6'4, 225, sophomore)
Gary Pinkel's first 5-star signee, Gabbert played in junk time in five games, completing 5 of 13 passes for 43 yards. In a lot of ways, he is the anti-Daniel. He is tall (Justin Whitlock won't get away with calling him "sawed-off"), cannon-armed, and extremely highly-touted. He's also mobile and, it seems, down-to-earth and sculptible. He has all the tools to be a massive success, but there are two primary concerns (for me, anyway):
1) Unlike Daniel, he wasn't a massive winner in high school. In fact, I believe his team (Parkway West) had a losing record in his senior year before he got hurt. Now, you can't pin this all at the quarterback's feet. If the rest of the team is terrible, there's not much a guy can do. Chase Daniel had an extraordinary amount of talent surrounding him at Southlake Carroll, not to mention top-flight facilities and an innovative, soon-to-be-snatched-up-to-the-college-ranks coach. However, one problem I always had was simply that if you put Chase Daniel on any high school team of any caliber, he'd have figured out a way to win more than he lost. Maybe I'm horrendously incorrect there, but it's been a red flag for me on Gabbert since back when he was a Nebraska commit.
2) This could be completely and totally coincidental, but he got hurt his senior year in high school (foot and shoulder) and again in two-a-days (shoulder sprain). Maybe he'll never be hurt again, but three injuries in about 14 months is at least a small red flag that he might be injury-prone.
Jimmy Costello (6'3, 225, sophomore)
A walk-on from Liberty who impressed Gary Pinkel enough that he was given a scholarship without actually seeing the field, Costello might be more of an option at quarterback than any of us might have thought. Pinkel went so far as to compare him to Hugh Millen, a former walk-on at Washington who made it to the NFL. I can't say I know a single thing about this kid, but a) he's a good size, and b) Pinkel likes him. That means I like him, and that means we might actually have a 4-way QB race in March. How freaking fun is that??
Incoming recruits after the jump.
Blaine Dalton (6'1, 190, Blue Springs, MO)
If Gabbert is the anti-Daniel, Blaine Dalton may be the...anti-Gabbert? He gives up about three inches and 35 pounds to Gabbert, but quite simply, the dude knows how to win. He took over the reins of a non-power in Blue Springs South and won 33 of 37 games in three seasons, earning him, among other things, the Simone Award for the Kansas City area's best player. South came out of nowhere to win the 2006 Class 6 state title in dominating fashion, and after a 1-2 start this season, rebounded to make the state finals. He is an intriguing mix of grit, leadership, and athleticism, and oh yeah, he'll be in for spring practice. A lot of Mizzou fans think he can challenge Gabbert for the starting job as a true freshman. We'll see soon enough.
Ashton Glaser (6'2, 205, Springdale, AR)
The forgotten man of the 2009 race, Ashton Glaser's proficiency in the spread offense could almost immediately vault him up the depth chart starting this spring. But spread efficiency isn't his only strength--he's also fast, smart, and accurate. Obviously Missouri fans have seen a lot more of Dalton over the last three years than Glaser, but don't rule Glaser out here. Aside from his toughness and accuracy, the other strength Chase Daniel brought to the table when he came to Mizzou was his experience and knowledge in running a spread offense. Glaser has a leg up on Dalton, Costello, and Gabbert in that regard. The perception is that he doesn't have the upside of Dalton and Gabbert, and who in the world knows if that's true or not, but he does have the smarts and should be intricately involved in the race for the starting position.
2008 vs 2009
There's not much debate to this one. One nice thing Chase Daniel did for Mizzou fans at the tail end of his career was remind everybody that he is indeed human. Whoever wins the Gabbert/Costello/Dalton/Glaser race only has to replace a great quarterback, not a superhuman one, but the bar is still set extraordinarily high. This will make for fantastic intrigue this spring, as all four candidates seem to bring different strengths to the table, and needless to say, the upside involved here dwarfs the vaunted Dougherty/Farmer/Douglass/Propst* race of 1999.
(* This might not have been a race at all had Propst not broken his leg in 117 different places the spring before 1999. The coaches seemed to absolutely love that kid before the injury.)
2009 QBs on the YouTubes
Blaine Gabbert (and yes, he's in Nebraska red...funny, huh?)