So ... How'd Recruiting Go?

"But I told you ... I don't CARE what Rivals thinks!!" (Photo via Bill Carter.)

2011 Missouri Football Signees
QB Corbin Berkstresser
WR Wesley Leftwich
OL Taylor Chappell
OL Michael Boddie
OL Connor McGovern
OL Brad McNulty
DE Shane Ray
DT Gerrand Johnson
LB Kentrell Brothers
LB Clarence Green
LB Brandon Durant
DB Cortland Browning
DB David Johnson
DB Ernest Payton
DB Ian Simon
ATH Brandon Hannah

As I'm sure most of you know, I love what Gary Pinkel has done for the Missouri football program.  I love his long-term thinking and overall stability, and obviously I love the results.  But I do have a complaint I'd like to lodge right now: Coach, you've taken some of the fun out of following recruiting.  With the "process" you and your staff have developed for both evaluating prospects and securing commits, we know that you are going to aim for a lot of diamond-in-the-rough types, players with the athleticism you need and the coachability you want; and if recent years are any indication, you are going to succeed more and more in doing so.  Unless there is some serious, marquee talent in the Missouri high school ranks, there is so little drama in the way Missouri recruits that it has almost, almost, become less interesting to follow.

In terms of the result on the field, boring recruiting really isn't a problem.  But with each passing year, college football recruiting becomes more and more like its own sport, with winners and losers, teams gaining and losing momentum, etc.  With a recruiting class that was 90 percent complete by the end of the summer, Mizzou was involved in none of the Signing Day drama.  There was no live feed of the Mizzou A.D. fax machine.  There were no hat-choosing ceremonies involving the Tiger logo.  This may be a bad thing in some ways -- only the tippy-top recruits get the hat ceremonies -- but ... sometimes the lack of stress is nice, right?  And at this point, do we have any reason to doubt what the staff attempted to do?

Next year, there will likely be some stress.  A state of Missouri athlete is in the running for the No. 1 recruit in all the land, while a few others are already receiving advances from many suitors.  But between the high-stakes class of 2012 and the highly-successful class of 2010, the 2011 class was a bit of an oasis, a low-output, low-anxiety class full of gap-fillers and personality.

Every year we go through the same ordeal on the message boards -- too many low-rated guys, not enough four-star guys, unacceptable, can't keep up with Oklahoma and Texas, best days are behind us, settling for mediocrity, etc.  There is an element of truth to some of the annual whining -- Missouri cannot, in fact, keep up with Oklahoma and Texas from a recruiting standpoint, and we likely never will -- but still.  Gary Pinkel and staff could not have proven themselves more from a research-and-development standpoint at this point, and while we would all love a few more four- and five-star guys, their approach has worked with increasing, and startling effectiveness in recent years.

The Initial 2011 Wish List

Only Frank Beamer has succeeded at a higher level with fewer star recruits than Gary Pinkel.  While I spend a good portion of my Football Outsiders writing examining the predictive quality of recruiting rankings as a whole -- and trust me, it's there -- clearly the star ratings don't impact the Missouri program as much as others.  In lieu of stars (we'll revisit them below), one way to look at the quality of a recruiting class is to look back at the coaching staff's initial wish list.  Never mind the star ratings attached with the players Mizzou was pursuing at this time last year -- just look at who they were pursuing, period.

Below is an approximation of what I'm considering Missouri's 2011 wish list.  I am sure I am missing some names and overestimating coaches' interest in others, but this is just what I have been able to piece together from both memory and the Rivals database.  I assume the coaches' initial list was much longer than this, but just in terms of when they offered players and how much initial interest the players showed, this seems like a decent list with which to work.

Pos. Player Hometown Rivals
Stars
Eventual School
of Choice
QB Corbin Berkstresser Lee's Summit, MO *** MIZZOU
RB Rodney Coe Edwardsville, IL **** Iowa
RB Aaron Green San Antonio, TX **** Nebraska
RB Kody Walker Jefferson City, MO *** Arkansas
WR Brandon Hannah St. Louis, MO *** MIZZOU
WR Wesley Leftwich Columbia, MO *** MIZZOU
TE Dan Tapko Kansas City, MO **** Oklahoma
OL Tony Morales Arlington, TX **** Texas Tech
OL Taylor Chappell Canadian, TX *** MIZZOU
OL Le'Raven Clark Rockdale, TX *** Texas Tech
OL Zach DeBell Tarpon Springs, FL *** Georgia
OL Mitch Hall Russellville, AR *** Ole Miss
OL Jamelle Naff Del City, OK *** TCU
DE Cedric Reed Cleveland, TX **** Texas
DE Shane Ray Shawnee Mission, KS *** MIZZOU
DT Sheldon Richardson St. Louis, MO -- JUCO **** MIZZOU
DT James Castleman Amarillo, TX *** Oklahoma State
LB Kentrell Brothers Guthrie, OK *** MIZZOU
LB Kellen Jones Houston, TX *** Michigan
LB Clarence Green Clute, TX *** MIZZOU
DB Quandre Diggs Angleton, TX **** Texas
DB Cortland Browning Tyler, TX *** MIZZOU
ATH Anthony Pierson St. Louis, MO **** Kansas
ATH Christian French Cedar Rapids, IA **** Oregon
ATH Domonique Petties Duncan, OK *** Arizona

Some notes:

  • According to the Rivals database, Mizzou offered six kids from the state of Missouri, a very low total.  As I mentioned above, the size of the class as a whole probably prevented Missouri from taking quite as many chances as they might do in a typical year, but there's no question this was a down year for football in the state of MO.  How down?  Let's put it this way -- they've already offered six Missouri kids for the class of 2012.  They offered 12 in 2010 and 16 in 2009.  This really was a good time for Mizzou to not have as many scholarships to give, though Dave Matter did have a decent point in his Emptying the Signing Day Notebook post this week:
    As Missouri’s personnel improves and its connections in Texas-Oklahoma-Louisiana have gotten stronger, Pinkel’s staff can afford to be more selective in the state. Will that strategy ever cost the Tigers down the road?
    We've seen before that Missouri high school coaches can get annoyed and hold grudges when Mizzou doesn't offer one of their stars.  Hopefully the lack of offers in this class doesn't ridiculously cost Mizzou in future classes.  It's happened before.
  • I'm still a bit surprised that Corbin Berkstresser didn't end up a four-star recruit.  He has always had the size and stature recruiting services typically look for, and in 2010 he put up the stats as well.
  • Mizzou basically offered three high-caliber RBs, and between the style of offense and the fact that all four of Mizzou's RBs from this past season return, they failed to land any of them.  With so few scholarships and so many RBs returning, it appears the position was a bit of a luxury for this class, so once they failed to land a big-impact guy, they just decided not to pursue an RB.
  • With the class Mizzou brought in last year -- Marcus Lucas, Jimmie Hunt, and Bud Sasser -- and the WR-heavy Class of 2012 (Dorial Green-Beckham, Durron Neal, etc.) looming, Mizzou only offered a couple of potential receivers in this class.  Once they got commitments from Leftwich and Hannah (who, as has been mentioned in recent articles, could end up anywhere from WR to TE to DE to LB), they stopped pursuing pass catchers.
  • Mizzou offered a ton of offensive linemen early in the process -- more than just the six I listed above -- and really, they only signed one of those initial guys.  You could consider that a potential sign of failure, but obviously that won't matter if Connor McGovern, Michael Boddie and Brad McNulty work out just fine.  (Plus, we really don't have much proof that McGovern, Boddie and McNulty weren't on the coaches' initial wish list, either.)
  • After predictably missing on Cedric Reed (the four-star DE was off the table as soon as Texas offered, as is usually the case), Mizzou seemed happy with just Shane Ray at end.  Even with the loss of Aldon Smith, Mizzou is not lacking for ends this year, that much is for sure.
  • Mizzou was still pursuing defensive tackles late in the recruiting process, but I have to figure they are happy with Sheldon Richardson (because, by god, one day he will show up on campus) and quote machine Gerrand Johnson.  James Castleman was a complete unknown early in the recruiting process, but as is typically the case with players Mizzou chooses to offer early on, his profile blew up as time progressed.
  • Mizzou did not seem to be pursuing any big-time LB prospects to any desperate degree -- looks like they offered a couple of four-stars, but the offers seemed to come after the names listed above.  That tells me they're quite happy with the LBs they landed.
  • Not to go on a Dave Matter quoting binge, but did you see the quote I posted in this morning's links post?  The one about how just about every linebacker or defensive back Missouri signed between 2006 and 2009 has become either a starter or a solid contributor?  That's staggering.  But while we could certainly afford to upgrade a bit in the secondary (hopefully some of the redshirt freshmen will contend for playing time), and while Missouri may have offered guys like David Johnson and Ernest Payton (who might have trouble qualifying) later in the recruiting process ... with that type of track record, you have to trust that these guys are pretty damn good football players.
  • Ah, Anthony Pierson.  With his family connections to Sheldon Richardson, Pierson was one of the first 2011 commits for the Tigers until he transferred to East St. Louis and decided to re-open his recruitment.  East St. Louis is so unbelievably shady at the moment, and apparently their coach hates Mizzou.  Pierson was deemed ineligible to play for ESL, and that and other issues prevented other schools from taking him too seriously.  There was a rumor that Mizzou was getting involved again in December, but apparently they passed on him, and he ended up at Kansas.  The Jayhawks either landed a steal, or they are taking in some damaged goods.  We'll see.

The Initial 2012 Wish List

According to Rivals, here are the 2012 players who have received early offers from Mizzou, along with my educated guess at their eventual star ratings (based on early articles and offer lists).  I could be very wrong about the star ratings -- I'd have put a lot of money on Berkstresser becoming a four-star QB, after all.

Pos. Player Hometown Rivals
Stars
School
of Choice
QB Gunner Kiel Columbus, IN ****
QB Maty Mauk Kenton, OH ****
RB Jonathan Williams Allen, TX *** or ****
WR Dorial Green-Beckham Springfield, MO *****
WR Durron Neal St. Louis, MO ****
OL Evan Boehm Lee's Summit, MO ****
OL John Michael McGee Texarkana, TX ****
OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai Haltom City, TX ***
OL Jordan Roos Celina, TX ***
OL Cameron Bailey Athens, TX ***
DT Malcolm Brown Brenham, TX *****
DT Ondre Pipkins Park Hill, MO ****
DT Vincent Valentine Edwardsville, IL ****
LB Markus Golden St. Louis, MO -- JUCO *** MIZZOU
LB Michael Scherer St. Louis, MO ****
LB Donavin Newsome St. Louis, MO *** or ****
LB Dalton Santos Van, TX *** Oklahoma State
DB Edward Pope Carthage, TX ****
ATH Kendall Sanders Athens, TX ***
ATH Jalen Overstreet Tatum, TX ***
ATH Armani Reeves West Roxbury, MA ***
ATH Camren Williams West Roxbury, MA ***

Last year, Missouri landed nine of the 25 players I placed on the "early wish list."  Needless to say, if they land approximately the same percentage of players on the above list, they'll end up doing damn fine in the 2012 rankings.  Thanks to a nice shot of MO talent -- Green-Beckham was Rivals' Junior of the Year and has a very good shot at being No. 1 in the entire Class of 2012, while Boehm, Neal and Scherer are swimming in early offers as well -- and the ambitious pursuit of some highly-ranked Texas players, the staff is aiming high.  The only problem is, as we'll see below, they still might not have many scholarships to give next year either.  That is how few busts Mizzou has had in recent classes.  By my count, they will currently have 15 scholarships to give in 2012, which would honestly be pretty damn unfortunate.  Assuming a bit of attrition, we still might only be looking at a class of 18-22 players, and considering guys like Green-Beckham and Boehm will have slots reserved for them no matter how long they take to choose their school, I wouldn't expect too many more early offers until some of the players on the above list choose a school or stop showing any interest in Missouri.  (With some of the four- and five-star Texas players, let's be honest: they'll probably be off of Mizzou's wish list pretty quickly.  Texas will soon come calling, if they haven't already.)

(This is neither here nor there, but assuming a class of 20 players for now, here's what I think is the optimal layout, based on the current and future depth chart: 1 QB, 1 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 4 OL, 2 DE, 2 DT, 3 LB, 3 DB.)

Past Classes

But that's enough about future classes.  To truly understand what Missouri might be taking in with the 2011 class, we have to first look back at how past classes both took shape and performed.  To do so, we're going to play a game similar to something I played in a post from a couple of years ago.  I'm going to re-rate recruits based on how they performed (or didn't perform) on the field.  Here's the key:

  • 1 star: No impact whatsoever.  Likely left within a year or two of arriving on campus.
  • 2 stars: Little impact.  Probably saw the field at times but was, to use a baseball term, replacement level at best.
  • 3 stars: Saw significant playing time and likely started for Mizzou.
  • 4 stars: All-conference caliber performer.
  • 5 stars: All-American caliber performer.

(I'm sure we could argue all day about some of my grades below, but as is typical, we're looking for general trends, not aiming to debate whether somebody should have been a 2- or 3-star "re-rated" player.)

Since Rivals has been around a while now, and there is quite a bit of data from old classes, we're going to look at Mizzou's recruiting classes three at a time, starting with the first year in the database (and Pinkel's second at Missouri), 2002.  After we have graded everybody, we will look at the average for each class, the original class ranking, and the "Bust Rate," which is the percentage of re-rated "1-star" recruits that made up a class.

2002-04

For 2002-04, Rivals was much more liberal in handing out 3- and 4-star ratings.  They clamped down on that in 2005.

New Rating 2002 Signees (Orig. Rating)
2003 Signees (Orig. Rating)
2004 Signees (Orig. Rating)
1 Star Fabian Bean (****)
Mario Whitney (****)
Zach Zwilling (****)
Emmett Morris (***)
Alex Pettersen (***)
Corey Taylor (***)
Mau Uiagalelei (***)
Todd Gohsler (**)
Phil Tizzio (**)
Rahman Lockhart (**)
Gartrell Cooper (***)
M.J. Norman (***)
Emmanuel Cooper (***)
Marty Raab (***)
Zane Tomlin (***)
Lareno Seymour (**)
Phinney Troy (**)
Darrell Jackson (***)
George Lane (***)
Aaron Saunders (**)
Brian Barmann (**)
Julius Denzmore (**)
Alvin Newhouse (**)
Trenile Washington (**)
Calcius Williams (**)
John Dirk (**)
2 Stars Howard Brissette (****)
Brandon Coleman (***)
DeQuincy Howard (**)
Josh Hibbets (***)
Josh Barbo (****)
Greg Bracey (***)
Jason Ray (***)
Alex Woodley (**)
Jerrill Humphrey (****)
Chase Patton (****)
Earl Goldsmith (**)
Steve Redmond (**)
Mack Breed (**)
Domonique Johnson (**)
3 Stars Atiyyah Ellison (****)
Dedrick Harrington (****)
Joel Clinger (***)
David Overstreet (***)
Steve Sanchez (***)
Tyler Luellen (****)
Damien Nash (****)
Brad Ekwerekwu (***)
Xzavie Jackson (***)
Victor Sesay (***)
Nino Williams (***)
Marcus Woods (***)
Monte Wyrick (**)
Tony Temple (****)
Van Alexander (****)
Jimmy Jackson (**)
Ryan Madison (**)
4 Stars Marcus Bacon (***)
Brian Smith (***)
Adam Spieker (***)
Lorenzo Williams (***)
Will Franklin (***)
William Moore (***)
Stryker Sulak (**)
5 Stars none Martin Rucker (***) none
Original Rivals Ratings:
** recruits: 1.75 're-rated' stars
*** recruits: 2.17
**** recruits: 1.83

Original Rivals Ratings:
** recruits: 1.75 're-rated' stars
*** recruits: 2.47
**** recruits: 2.67
Original Rivals Ratings:
** recruits: 1.79 're-rated' stars
*** recruits: 2.50
**** recruits: 2.50
Original Class Ranking: 29th
Re-Rated Star Average: 1.95
Bust Rate: 47.6%
Original Class Ranking: 28th
Re-Rated Star Average: 2.36
Bust Rate: 31.8%
Original Class Ranking: 29th
Re-Rated Star Average: 2.05
Bust Rate: 40.9%

Early on, Gary Pinkel pulled in some reasonably highly-touted classes.  Each of these classes ranked among Rivals' Top 30, but they did not necessarily produce at that level.  Few of the two-star, diamond-in-the-rough types produced, while a strangely high number of the four-stars didn't pan out either, especially in the 2002 class.  As we'll see, the Bust Rate was quite high considering where it has been in recent years.  Sure, there were some breakthrough, all-conference players, but these first few classes did not establish and sustain the level of talent that Mizzou has compiled in recent years, despite the decent class rankings.

2005-07

With fewer 3-star ratings, you'll see quite a few more two-star recruits on the batch of players below.

New Rating 2005 Signees (Orig. Rating)
2006 Signees (Orig. Rating)
2007 Signees (Orig. Rating)
1 Star Tarell Corby (***)
James Stigall (***)
Chad Marshall (***)
Matt Russell (***)
Matt Casaday (**)
Herman King (**)
Chris Hudgins (**)
Dominic Grooms (***)
J.P. Tillman (***)
Jesse Hernandez (***)
Brant Scott (**)
Marquis Booker (**)
Quran Barge (**)
Kendall Irving (**)
Donte Neal (**)
Bryan Webb (**)
2 Stars Connell Davis (***)
DeMarcus Scott (***)
Chad Washington (***)
Dain Wise (***)
Jason Townson (**)
Jon Gissinger (**)
Bart Coslet (***)
John Stull (***)
Mike Prince (**)
La'Roderick Thomas (**)
Paul Simpson (**)
Charles Gaines (**)
Michael Keck (****)
Andy Maples (****)
Gilbert Moye (****)
J.T. Beasley (***)
Jaysen Corbett (***)
Chris Earnhardt (***)
Trey Hobson (***)
Tremane Vaughns (***)
George White (***)
Rolandis Woodland (***)
Tyler Crane (**)
Jason Townson (**)
3 Stars Darnell Terrell (****)
Jaron Baston (***)
Brock Christopher (***)
Hardy Ricks (***)
Louis Pintola (***)
Jamar Smith (***)
Kevin Rutland (***)
Del Howard (***)
Jared Perry (***)
Castine Bridges (***)
Tommy Chavis (**)
Derrick Washington (****)
Justin Garrett (***)
Carl Gettis (***)
Dominique Hamilton (***)
Luke Lambert (***)
De'Vion Moore (***)
Jayson Palmgren (***)
Terrell Resonno (***)
Austin Wuebbels (***)
Jake Harry (**)
4 Stars Kurtis Gregory (***)
Ziggy Hood (***)
Tim Barnes (***)
Pig Brown (***)
Elvis Fisher (***)
Andrew Gachkar (**)
5 Stars Chase Coffman (***)
Chase Daniel (***)
Jeremy Maclin (****)
Danario Alexander (**)
Sean Weatherspoon (**)
none

Original Rivals Ratings:
** recruits: 1.40 're-rated' stars
*** recruits: 2.65
**** recruits: 3.00

Original Rivals Ratings:
** recruits: 2.67 're-rated' stars
*** recruits: 2.45
**** recruits: 5.00
Original Rivals Ratings:
** recruits: 2.00 're-rated' stars
*** recruits: 2.63
**** recruits: 2.25

Original Class Ranking: 39th
Re-Rated Star Average: 2.39
Bust Rate: 30.4%
Original Class Ranking: 47th
Re-Rated Star Average: 2.55
Bust Rate: 27.3%
Original Class Ranking: 33rd
Re-Rated Star Average: 2.41
Bust Rate: 11.1%

Beginning with the 2005 class, Mizzou's recruiting averages -- as graded by Rivals -- began to take a step backwards, but their results improved.  The 2005 class was Pinkel's worst-ranked class so far, but it produced two "4-star" players and two "5-star" players and, overall, redefined the ceiling for Missouri's program.  The 2006 class ranked even worse and performed even better.  The Bust Rate fell, the diamonds in the rough worked out with greater frequency, and these two classes produced five All-Americans and four more all-conference caliber players.  That's astounding.  These two classes are also the go-to reference for defenders of the coaching staff when the post-National Signing Day whining begins.

In comparison, the 2007 class, which Rivals rated more highly, disappointed in comparison.  Derrick Washington and Carl Gettis came out of the gates looking like easy four-star players, but Gettis reached his peak earlier than expected and Washington ... well, you know Washington's story by now.

The 2007 class is, however, notable for the extra bit of ammo it gave the "star ratings mean nothing" crowd (of which, surprisingly enough, I am not typically a member): Mizzou signed four 4-star players, and only one of them amounted to anything. Meanwhile, a 2-star recruit reached all-conference status.

2008-10

Here's where the guesswork begins.  After three years on campus, we have a pretty decent grasp of what the 2008 class has had to offer, but the 2009 and 2010 classes are far from defined.  To "grade" these classes, I am making a lot of guesses and assumptions, many of which will be proven wrong in 2011-12 (if not before).  You've been warned.

New Rating 2008 Signees (Orig. Rating)
2009 Signees (Orig. Rating)
Quite a bit of guesswork here.
2010 Signees (Orig. Rating)
EXTREME guesswork here.
1 Star Taylor Davis (***)
Daniel Jenkins (***)
Drew Temple (***)
Blaine Dalton (***)
Ty Phillips (***)
Alex Sanders (***)
none
2 Stars Andrew Jones (****)
Gahn McGaffie (***)
Travis Ruth (***)
Robert Steeples (***)
Jimmy Burge (**)
Marcus Malbrough (**)
Josh Tatum (****)
Brayden Burnett (***)
Adam Burton (***)
Jaleel Clark (***)
Chris Freeman (***)
Ashton Glaser (***)
Kerwin Stricker (***)
Tavon Bolden (**)
Marvin Foster (**)
Mark Hill (**)
L'Damian Washington (**)
Nick Demien (****)
Anthony Gatti (***)
Matt Hoch (***)
Jared Parham (***)
Xavier Smith (***)
Kenronte Walker (***)
Braylon Webb (***)
Greg White (***)
3 Stars Will Ebner (***)
Kip Edwards (***)
Kenji Jackson (***)
Wes Kemp (***)
Brad Madison (***)
Jacquies Smith (***)
Jerrell Jackson (**)
Brian Coulter (**)
Jarrell Harrison (***)
Kendial Lawrence (***)
Jack Meiners (***)
Jasper Simmons (***)
Andrew Wilson (***)
Donovan Bonner (**)
Justin Britt (**)
Michael Sam (**)
Matt White (**)
Kony Ealy (****)
Tyler Gabbert (****)
Tristen Holt (****)
Jimmie Hunt (****)
Marcus Lucas (****)
E.J. Gaines (***)
Daniel Easterly (***)
Henry Josey (***)
Mitch Morse (***)
Marcus Murphy (***)
Darvin Ruise (***)
Bud Sasser (***)
Lucas Vincent (***)
Eric Waters (***)
4 Stars Blaine Gabbert (*****)
Dan Hoch (****)
Zaviar Gooden (***)
Aldon Smith (****)
Michael Egnew (**)
T.J. Moe (***) James Franklin (****)
5 Stars none none none

Original Rivals Ratings:
** recruits: 2.80 're-rated' stars
*** recruits: 2.38
**** recruits: 3.00
***** recruits: 4.00

Original Rivals Ratings:
** recruits: 2.50 're-rated' stars
*** recruits: 2.27
**** recruits: 2.00
Original Rivals Ratings:
** recruits: N/A 're-rated' stars
*** recruits: 2.56
**** recruits: 3.00

Original Class Ranking: 25th
Re-Rated Star Average: 2.68
Bust Rate: 13.6%
Original Class Ranking: 40th
Re-Rated Star Average: 2.33
Bust Rate: 12.5%
Original Class Ranking: 21st
Re-Rated Star Average: 2.69
Bust Rate: 0.0% (so far)

The 2008 class was Gary Pinkel's highest-ranked to date, and to be sure, it has produced.  I gave Blaine Gabbert four stars because he produced solid results and has a chance to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.  A stricter definition would have potentially given him only three stars, but alas.  Technically Egnew won All-American status and therefore could have been given five stars, but consider that my tradeoff for giving Gabbert four.  Since we don't know much about how the 2010 class will perform yet, we can say that the 2008 class was Pinkel's best, both from a Rivals rankings perspective and a "re-rankings" perspective.

There is much we don't know about the 2009 class.  Few managed to make an impact on the 2010 football season, but the reason for that could have been the success of the three previous classes.

By the way, are you noticing the Bust Rate?  The last four recruiting classes have seen an incredibly small number of busts.  Maybe Mizzou isn't producing 15 all-conference players per class, but the depth of quality and talent is at a level we haven't seen at Mizzou in decades.  Like I mentioned above, there is almost a drawback to such a thing -- this year's recruiting class was tiny, and if there isn't much attrition, next year's class might be too.

So here are Missouri's recruiting classes, ranked in order of their "Re-Rated Star Averages."  Original Rivals class rankings are in parentheses.

  1. 2010 -- 2.69 (21st)
  2. 2008 -- 2.68 (25th)
  3. 2006 -- 2.55 (47th)
  4. 2007 -- 2.41 (33rd)
  5. 2005 -- 2.39 (39th)
  6. 2003 -- 2.36 (28th)
  7. 2009 -- 2.33 (40th)
  8. 2004 -- 2.05 (29th)
  9. 2002 -- 1.95 (29th)

Obviously we don't know much about 2010 yet, but it does appear that Mizzou's two most highly-touted recruiting classes will also end up their most successful.  Score one in the "rankings matter" column.  On the other hand, no matter the ranking, Mizzou's four best "re-rated" classes have come in the last five years, Rivals rankings be damned.  The Mizzou staff has used their improved notability and status in both expected and unexpected ways.  They have, overall, pursued more highly-ranked kids, and as attested by the Class of 2010, they have landed more.  But at the same time, they trust their own evaluation abilities that they have used their improved clout to lock down lower-rated kids too.  If they want the kid, they trust themselves enough to pursue them early, whether Rivals likes the kid or not.

(If nothing else, this post should show that you've got ammunition to positively spin anything related to Mizzou recruiting.  Mizzou ranks low? They've succeeded with low-ranked classes!  Mizzou ranks high?  They've succeeded with high-ranked classes!)

In terms of four-year recruiting averages, both according to Rivals.com and ESPN.com, Missouri should not be producing the on-field results that they have been producing in recent years.  But they are.  Internal evaluation and development mean as much to this staff as anything -- they identify an athlete who will likely "practice well" at a given position, and they trust their own coaching abilities to make that athlete successful.  The success of their own recruiting methods is evident by the small number of busts in the recent classes.  From another recent Dave Matter article:

"As we’ve improved and our recruiting has gone to a higher level, you take less risks," Yost said. "And what happens is you get less attrition. You have less of those guys who, once they get here, we’re saying: ‘Well, we were hoping he’d turn into this guy,’ or, ‘We were hoping he’d gain more weight,’ or maybe we took a guy who didn’t run quite as well as we were hoping, but we were hoping he would. You’re always projecting where an athlete’s going to be."

Here are Mizzou's classes ranked according to Bust Rate.  Once again, original Rivals rankings are in parentheses.

  1. 2010 -- 0.0% (21st)
  2. 2007 -- 11.1% (33rd)
  3. 2009 -- 12.5% (40th)
  4. 2008 -- 13.6% (25th)
  5. 2006 -- 27.3% (47th)
  6. 2005 -- 30.4% (39th)
  7. 2003 -- 31.8% (28th)
  8. 2004 -- 40.9% (29th)
  9. 2002 -- 47.6% (29th)

There is perhaps a slight correlation between Rivals ranking and Bust Rate, but it is minimal.  The true correlation is between Bust Rate and the recency of the class.  Every year, Missouri produces a class with fewer busts and more contributors, and there is little reason to think that will change anytime soon.

Summary

So Missouri just signed a class with 'only' one four-star player and 16 3-stars.  What can recent recruiting and success tell us about this class?  Well, we are probably looking at a group that will produce between six and eight starters, one or two busts, and maybe a couple of all-conference players.  When you look at the potential of the surrounding classes, this is just about perfect, isn't it?  Mizzou's overall program trajectory will be defined by the 2010 and 2012 classes, and it has appeared this way for a while.  The 2011 class was about pure depth, and Mizzou has a lot of it now.  If 'only' Leftwich or Hannah work out, if 'only' two of the four offensive linemen work out, if 'only' Ray or Johnson work out, if 'only' one or two of the LBs and DBs work out, then this class will indeed give Mizzou the depth they need to supplement the more highly-touted classes a year ahead and a year behind.  Would I have liked more star power and a higher-ranked class?  Of course.  It's fun competing in both sports -- college football and recruiting.  But on-field product is what truly matters, and the staff has not given us any reason to start questioning their recruiting tactics now, not when they have improved almost every single recent season.

Again, if we are talking about a 2012 class with a star average hovering around 3.00 twelve months from now, then something quite possibly went awry.  Not only will Mizzou have a lot more in-state talent to work with, but they've been mostly done with the 2011 class long enough that it appears they've been working on 2012 for a while already.  Whether dealing with 15 scholarships or 25, the 2012 class should be damn impressive.  And for all we know, the 2011 class was too.

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