A look at Missouri's football recruiting efforts in light of their move to the SEC and the signing of Dorial Green-Beckham.
In the 2008 recruiting class, Missouri landed eight of 11 in-state kids to whom they extended an offer; as of May 1, 2007, three of those eight had already committed.
In the 2004 recruiting class, Missouri landed 12 of 17 in-state kids to whom they extended an offer; as of May 1, 2003, two of those 12 had already committed.
In the 2013 recruiting class to date, Missouri has landed eight of the 13 in-state kids to whom they have extended an offer, including Lee's Summit West linebacker Nick Ramirez and Staley quarterback Trent Hosick, who committed this past weekend at the Black & Gold game.
It is April 17.
If Missouri maintains the current eight commits and doesn't add even one more from in-state (and doesn't offer any more either), this will go down as Gary Pinkel's fourth-most successful in-state recruiting effort; he will have landed 61.5 percent of his Missouri targets, just below the 62.5 percent of the 2009 class (10 of 16, five of whom had committed by May 1, 2008), the 70.6 percent of the 2004 class, and the 72.7 percent of the 2008 class.
(And yes, any reference to the eight commitments comes with the disclaimer that any of these verbal commits could change at any time. For the purposes of this post, we'll assume they don't. But it is always possible.)
Call it the DGB Effect. Call it the SEC effect. Whatever it is ... in terms of in-state recruiting, what Missouri has accomplished so far in the 2013 class has been rather unprecedented, at least in the 10-15 years since I began following recruiting. That two of the commits are among the top three in the class, and that a good handful of the commits are from Kansas City (with all the supposed SEC-related uncertainty involved on the western edge of the state), are just bonuses.
Based on current Rivals ratings and my own interpretations (based mostly on comments made at times by PowerMizzou's Gabe Dearmond and Pete Scantlebury), here is a rough ranking of the 17 state of Missouri players who have thus far been assigned a three- or four-star rating by Rivals.com.
(The number after the star rating is Rivals' attempt to dial in a bit further in differentiating one star rating from another. A four-star recruit, for instance, can have a Rivals Rating of 5.8 to 6.0, a three-star 5.5 to 5.7. The higher the rating, the better. The players are listed in order of this rating, and I have used my own educated guesses to rank them within each rating -- 5.8, 5.7, etc.)
1. Chase Abbington (Fort Zumwalt South) -- 6'4, 210, ATH (**** 5.8)
2. Nick Ramirez (Lee's Summit West) -- 6'1, 228, LB (**** 5.8)
3. Ezekiel Elliott (St. Louis John Burroughs) -- 6'0, 200, RB (**** 5.8) -- OHIO STATE
4. Zach Hannon (Rockhurst) -- 6'5, 295, OL (*** 5.7)
5. Antar Thompson (Richmond Heights) -- 6'3, 295, OL (*** 5.7)
6. Trent Hosick (K.C. Staley) -- 6'2, 215, QB (*** 5.6)
7. Eric Beisel (Rockwood Summit) -- 6'4, 235, LB (*** 5.6)
8. Jamone Boyd (Lee's Summit) -- 6'4, 235, DE (*** 5.6)
9. Anthony Sherrils (K.C. Hogan Prep) -- 6'1, 174, ATH (*** 5.6)
10. Joe Burkett (Jefferson City) -- 6'3, 200, LB (*** 5.6)
11. Harneet Gill (Francis Howell) -- 6'7, 260, OL (*** 5.6)
12. Jordan Willis (Rockhurst) -- 6'5, 225, DE (*** 5.6) -- KANSAS STATE
13. Aarion Penton (St. Louis CBC) -- 5'9, 165, DB (*** 5.5)
14. Alec Abeln (SLUH) -- 6'4, 275, OL (*** 5.5)
15. Brandon Minor (Chaminade) -- 6'2, 225, LB (*** 5.5)
16. Derrick Mitchell, Jr. (Vashon) -- 6'0, 185, ATH (*** 5.5)
17. Donnie White, Jr. (DeSmet) -- 6'3, 215, DE (*** 5.5)
Bold = Missouri Commit
Red = Committed Elsewhere
Italicized = No Missouri Offer
It appears that Mizzou is in reasonable to good shape with the four other Missouri kids who have received offers and not committed -- Hannon, Thompson, Beisel and Boyd. If they land two of these four, this becomes Pinkel's most successful in-state haul. But really, that would just be icing. With the work they have done in securing these commitments, Mizzou has set an interesting path for the rest of this recruiting class.
Building The Brand
The path to Missouri's 2013 recruiting class has been unique for any number of reasons. The early commits are part of that, but in tracking the offers to date, we are seeing a completely different strategy from Missouri. They are offering seemingly everybody, from coast to coast. Vernon Hargreaves III, a Tampa cornerback and the No. 10 player in the country? Mizzou offer. Eddie Vanderdoes, California defensive end and the No. 21 player in the country? Mizzou offer. No. 27 Ethan Pocic, No. 60 Kyle Bosch and No. 109 Logan Tuley-Tillman (all Illinois offensive tackles)? No. 43 Henry Poggi (Baltimore defensive tackle)? No. 84 Priest Willis (Arizona safety)? No. 91 Carl Lawson (Georgia defensive end)? No. 93 Joe Mathis (California defensive end)? No. 115 Hunter Henry (Little Rock tight end)? No. 116 Elijah Daniel (Indiana defensive end)? Mizzou offers, all. According to Rivals, they have offered 24 four- or five-star recruits from outside the state of Missouri.
Missouri has offered quarterbacks from Texas (Southlake Carroll, actually), Florida, Oklahoma and Georgia. Receivers from Texas, Florida and Georgia. Tight ends from Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Georgia. Offensive linemen from Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Florida, Colorado, Kansas and Pennsylvania. Defensive linemen from Missouri, Texas, Florida, California, Indiana, Wisconsin, Georgia, Maryland and Massachusetts. Defensive backs from Missouri, Georgia, Arizona, Ohio, Florida and South Carolina.
And they will land almost none of them. Hargreaves and Vanderdoes, each likely five-star recruits, probably won't consider Missouri much. Bosch and Tuley-Tillman have committed to Michigan, Lawson to Auburn. Pocic isn't listing Missouri as a finalist. Poggi isn't mentioning the Tigers. Mizzou appears to be in decent shape, perhaps, with Daniel and Henry, not to mention other highly-rated four-stars like offensive tackle Jake Campos (W. Des Moines, IA), tight end Christian Morgan (Plano, TX) or quarterback Kenny Hill (Southlake, TX). But they might not land any of those guys either. And that's not really the point.
(Hell, even if every single player they offered wanted to commit, only about 10-15 could considering how many Missouri kids are already occupying scholarships.)
The "branding" of Missouri neither stopped nor started with new Nike uniforms.
The move to the SEC and the signing of Dorial Green-Beckham changed the game for Mizzou even if they were going to continue wearing the old duds, and they are taking the opportunity to introduce themselves to seemingly every major recruit in the country, and every major school in the country. They will continue to focus on Atlanta, Florida and Texas, but the makeup of the 2013 class could potentially set an interesting tone for all future classes: 8-12 Missouri kids, 3-5 Texas kids, 2-3 Florida kids, 2-3 Georgia Kids, 2-3 Iowa/Illinois/Ohio/Michigan kids, 2-3 kids from all throughout the country. They are seemingly staying local and going national at the same time.
These early commitments are huge for two reasons:
1. Every strategy has a weakness. The problem with "going national" and offering kids from coast to coast is, the locals might be a bit turned off. The more time you spend fruitlessly chasing kids in California means the less time you have to lock down that player (and coach) from DeSmet, or Lee's Summit West, or Rockhurst, or [Insert local talent factory here]. But in landing two-thirds of their in-state offers already, and hopefully landing one or two more before the summer even ends, your mise en place is in place. You have done most of the prep work, and you can afford to spend more time out of state in the summer and fall. Obviously, as they always say, you must continue to recruit the commits (because everybody else will too), but the early commits are huge for time management later in the recruiting season.
2. "Welcome to Missouri! Look at all this enthusiasm!" When an out-of-stater, hopefully one who is highly-touted, makes an official visit to Mizzou this fall, they are going to be welcomed by the coaching staff and players of what will hopefully be a reasonably successful SEC team (still to be determined, obviously), "No. 1 recruit in the country" Dorial Green-Beckham, and one hell of an enthusiastic batch of highly-touted commits. Players like Ramirez and Abbington are four-star athletes already, and Hosick is both a celebrated local player and, apparently, a charismatic presence. When Mizzou has their big-visit weekends in December, or when they invite certain players in for the Georgia or Alabama games or Homecoming, there will be a hefty batch of highly-touted, enthusiastic locals in for unofficial visits and serving as unofficial recruiters during the entire trip. That cannot possibly be a bad thing.
Following recruiting for Missouri is such a strange thing. You want to win as many initial battles as possible, but you also know in the back of your head that, if "initial battles" had gone Missouri's way in previous years, then perhaps late-in-the-game recruits like Sean Weatherspoon and Danario Alexander may have never received offers. If you are of the glass-half-full tendency (and I typically am), you have evidence to spin just about everything into a positive. Hell, I've already done it in this post -- "Mizzou is going to miss out on just about every blue-chipper it offers, and that's a good thing!" We have no idea if the 2013 recruiting class is going to be any more or less successful on the field than any of Missouri's recent classes; in general, the bar has been set reasonably high. But we do know that Missouri's rebranding is impacting everything they do in 2012, from laundry, to scouting, to recruiting. It is two parts exhilarating, one part terrifying. But that goes for everything regarding the SEC move, doesn't it?