Early- and mid-December typically mean two things for Mizzou football: bowl practices and huge recruiting weekends. It is generally believed that teams with great stadium environments try to host loads of official visits during the season while teams with less than impressive gameday arrangements go for December visits. Mizzou tries to have both -- unofficial visits during the season, combined with official, fall-all-over-you-for-48-hours visits in December and January.
A staple of Missouri's football recruiting tactics is to host one enormous batch of visitors one weekend in early December. The staff tries to bring both as many Mizzou commits as possible and key non-committed recruits to campus on the same weekend. The goal is obvious -- make the family environment as obvious as possible and hope it sucks in some key guys. In terms of pure volume, this past weekend was one of Mizzou's biggest under Gary Pinkel. At least 21 athletes visited -- 10 who had already committed to Mizzou and 11 who hadn't. Mizzou began the weekend with somewhere between 10 and 12 open slots for their recruiting class and ended the weekend with two more slots occupied.
OL Simon Goines (6'7, 270, ***, 5.7 Rivals Rating; Keller, TX)
OL Jordan Williams (6'4, 250, ***, 5.5 RR; Denton, TX)
DT Donald Hopkins (6'2, 270, ***, 5.7 RR; Lago Vista, TX)
DT Edmund Ray (6'5, 300, ***, 5.6 RR; St. Louis, MO)
LB Donavin Newsome (6'2, 220, ***, 5.7 RR; St. Louis, MO)
LB Michael Scherer (6'4, 230, ***, 5.6 RR; St. Louis, MO)
LB Markus Golden (6'3, 230, ***; St. Louis, MO via JUCO)
DB Will Hines (6'1, 175, ***, 5.7 RR; Waco, TX)
DB Torey Boozer (6'3, 210, ***, 5.6 RR; Everman, TX)
DB Chaston Cuffee (6'1, 185, ***, 5.6 RR; Cleburne, TX)
Committed Since The Start Of The Weekend
DE Rickey Hatley (6'4, 245, No Rivals Rating; Atlanta, TX)
DB Ka'Ra Stewart (6'0, 190, ***, 5.6 RR; O'Fallon, IL)
RB Russell Hansbrough (5'7, 165, ***, 5.6 RR; Arlington, TX)
TE Sean Culkin (6'5, 220, ***, 5.7 RR; Largo, FL)
OL Evan Boehm (6'4, 290, ****, 5.8 RR; Lee's Summit, MO)
OL Jake Meador (6'7, 305, ****, 5.8 RR: Whiteland, IN)
OL Ralphael Green (6'5, 325, ***, 5.5 RR; San Antonio, TX)
DE Javonte Magee (6'5, 260, ****, 5.8 RR; San Antonio, TX)
DE Michael Richardson (6'2, 228, ***, 5.7 RR; DeSoto, TX)
DE Dylan Cozens (6'5, 235, No Rivals Rating; Scottsdale, AZ)
DT Aaron Curry (6'3, 260, ***, 5.6; Keller, TX)
ATH David Perkins (6'2, 210, ****, 5.8 RR; South Bend, IN)
It will take a while to find out just how successful this weekend was in terms of reeling in some of the bigger names on the list, but I figured now is a pretty good time to share thoughts on these recruits and the class as a whole. This will be the first of a multi-part series on the 2012 recruiting class.
(Note: while I certainly try to apply my own perceptions to the recruitment of different players -- when you've been following recruiting for more than a decade, you start to pick up on trends and tendencies -- most of what I know about a recruit comes straight from PowerMizzou. I say it every December, but now is absolutely the best time of year to be a PM subscriber, even if, like me, you don't care to be an active member of the community; it is worth it just for the updates and analysis.)
Analysis and all sorts of YouTube goodness after the jump.
Missouri has had an interesting couple of months in terms of recruiting. They secured more commitments over the summer than perhaps ever before, but a poor couple of months on the field and a move to the SEC put the class in serious flux. Among the hits:
- Four-star running back Jonathan Williams (Allen, TX) decommitted from Missouri and committed to Arkansas. Gabe and Pete at PowerMizzou have long felt this had as much to do with Henry Josey's emergence (and the threat of him dominating the carries for two years) rather than Mizzou's 4-5 start or any disagreement with the coaching staff. Regardless, he was a stylistic departure from the normal Missouri running back -- bigger, slower, stronger -- and would have provided an interesting litmus test for the adaptability of Mizzou's offense. Instead, Mizzou has a commitment from a more familiar style of runner: 5'11, 185-pound Morgan Steward from Kansas City (***, 5.7 RR). They also apparently made quite a bit of headway this weekend with an even more diminutive back, former Arizona State commit Russell Hansbrough. I know many long for bigger backs and a more physical presence, but ... there's also no denying the noise that Henry Josey made this year; with him, Mizzou had one of the more dynamic running games in the country, and he is in no way big.
- Four-star Lee's Summit lineman Evan Boehm decommitted. Once thought of as the most solid Mizzou commit, Boehm started having second thoughts midway through Mizzou's season. It was once thought that the move to the SEC shook him, but considering he is now considering either Auburn or Missouri, I'm thinking that couldn't have been much of an issue. Instead, it was perhaps the slow start. Regardless, he is down to two different sets of Tigers and will likely announce his intentions in the next couple of weeks. Gabe and Pete have said from the moment Boehm decommitted that he would still likely end up wearing the black and gold (and T.J. Moe seems to agree). I'm not quite as optimistic, but I still figure Mizzou is the favorite.
- Three-star Houston lineman Germain Ifedi decommitted and committed to Texas A&M, while three-star lineman Simon Goines began to have reservations. It appears Ifedi is sticking with A&M, but Goines appears to have reaffirmed his commitment upon visiting this weekend.
- Waco cornerback Will Hines was also said to be wavering with his commitment.
It was an iffy month or two for recruiting, but Mizzou seems to have regained its footing in recent weeks. Boehm has come around, and Gary Pinkel and company have put themselves in position to potentially capitalize on other coaching changes from around the region.
Russell Hansbrough, once an Arizona State commit, visited this weekend and evidently had a great time.
Jake Meador, once an Ole Miss commit, made his second trip to Columbia in just a few weeks and is said to be down to Mizzou and Ole Miss.
Michael Richardson, a soft A&M commit, visited this weekend (though initial reports are supposedly that he is sticking with Texas A&M).
David Perkins, once a Notre Dame commit, visited and was "surprised" by how much he liked Columbia. (He will take all five official visits before deciding.)
Along with Magee, Mizzou hosted four four-star recruits this weekend. None of them committed on the spot, but at the very least Boehm is a Mizzou lean and Meador is 50-50. (Nobody seems to know much about Magee, who doesn't talk much; he and his teammate Ralphael Green visited this weekend. Green did not receive an official offer on his visit -- he could have been considered a backup plan in case things didn't look good with Goines or Boehm -- and committed to Indiana yesterday.)
Another four-star visitor is expected next week (soft TCU commit Edward Pope), and of course the specter of Dorial Green-Beckham looms (he is likely visiting in January). For those who collect recruiting stars, Mizzou is still in solid position to land a few of the four-star variety. In addition, a lot of their three-star commits -- Maty Mauk, Steward, Goines, Donald Hopkins, Donavin Newsome, Will Hines -- are "5.7" guys (instead of just 1-5 stars, Rivals attempts to establish different tiers for each star; a three-star guy can be anywhere between 5.5 and 5.7, and 5.7's are the "nearly four-star" guys).
Mizzou has been as successful as any major conference program this side of Virginia Tech when it comes to signing three-star guys and coaching them up to four stars, but you do still want as many high-caliber athletes as possible, and it does appear that this could still end up being one of the better Mizzou recruiting classes. A ton depends on Boehm and Green-Beckham, obviously, but we'll discuss that in the next part of this series. Meanwhile, one of the more entertaining aspects of following Mizzou recruiting -- getting random commits from complete unknowns -- popped up this weekend as well, when small-small-smalltown Texan Rickey Hatley committed out of the blue. Sometimes those unknowns remain unknowns; sometimes they turn into Danario Alexander, Sean Weatherspoon or Stryker Sulak. In some classes, it seems the complete unknowns outperform the four-star kids.
Anyway, there are tons of YouTube videos for most of the weekend's visitors (all the ones I could find) below. I particularly enjoyed Hines' and Perkins'. Though Perkins could play on either side of the ball, I love how physical and tenacious his defensive play seems to be. Hines, meanwhile, is an incredibly physical cornerback; he seems to love being recruited and will possibly still make a couple more official visits, so he is not 100% Mizzou. Cross your fingers, I guess.