College football's National Signing Day is tomorrow; recruits from the 2013 class don't have to sign tomorrow, but most of them will, and we will spend the next few days reacting to, or freaking out about, our given school's crop of 18-year olds. It is a somewhat ridiculous process in a lot of ways, but it has become ridiculous because, whether we like it or not, recruiting success (in terms of rankings) correlates with on-field success. You don't win a national title without title-caliber athletes at your disposal, after all.
Signing Day typically means something a little different for Missouri. Under Gary Pinkel, Mizzou has been one of the more reliable overachievers in college football, if you define overachieving as performing at a higher level than your recruiting rankings suggest you will. We can all bring up the examples of Sean Weatherspoon and Danario Alexander as evidence that "stars don't matter," even though they quite often do. But whether the rankings "matter" as much for Missouri as other schools ... you still want Mizzou to land the guys it really wants to land. And in that way, the recruiting haul of 2013 will probably end up a little disappointing, at least compared to where we thought it might be about 10 months ago.
Mizzou began the 2013 recruiting season on fire. The move to the SEC, the signing of Dorial Green-Beckham, and perhaps the late winning streak in 2011, gave Pinkel and company all sorts of momentum, and they took advantage.
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.
It's funny how losing games kills recruiting momentum. In Jake Campos (a four-star offensive lineman from Iowa), Mizzou scored the rare four-star out-of-stater, and the Tigers were in on quite a few more. With reasonable out-of-state success, Mizzou was looking at, at worst, a Top 25 ranking for this class. But when the losses piled up on the field, injury-addled or not, Mizzou started losing in recruiting, too. That's how it tends to work.
Four-star Lee's Summit linebacker Nick Ramirez backed off of his commitment and eventually ended up committing to Kansas State.
Campos decided not to leave the state after all and ended up at Iowa State. Mizzou scored a nice commit from Texas defensive end Dimarya Mixon, then lost him to Nebraska.
Four-star defensive linemen like Ben Bradley (Auburn), Toby Jackson (undecided) and Za'Darius Smith (Kentucky) all either chose, or will choose, schools not named Missouri.
In-staters like Maliek Collins (Nebraska), Jamone Boyd (Kansas State), Zach Hannon (Nebraska) and Kolton Shindelar (Tulsa) went elsewhere. A lot of the inroads Mizzou had built in recent years fell apart the moment Mizzou fell under .500. It was both distressing and totally predictable.
For the rankings-obsessed, this class will quite possibly end up in the "disaster" category. And to be sure, considering where we once thought this class would end up, one has to be a little disappointed. But that's how the Bad Season Checklist tends to work. You will rarely see a team put together an encouraging recruiting class after a discouraging season on the field.
You can by all means survive an iffy class, of course. An on-field turnaround in 2013 should result in a better haul for Missouri in the class of 2014, and if said turnaround is going to take place, it's going to happen mostly because of the players already on the roster. You hope for some contributions from the new recruiting class, but most of the work will be done by the upperclassmen. And Missouri has quite a few upperclassmen about whom one can get excited.
Or, to put it another way, people aren't assuming less from Oregon on the field in 2013 just because their current 2013 recruiting haul isn't that impressive (seventh in the Pac-12, 36th overall).
Mizzou's 2013 output won't be affected much by who the Tigers sign tomorrow, but what an iffy class would do is put a ton of pressure on Pinkel and company to nail down a strong 2014 class. You can survive one iffy year, but two can hurt your program down the line. (And that says nothing about the 2012 class, which hasn't yet impressed.)
Anyway, there are a few more things to keep in mind, both good and bad, as Signing Day approaches. We'll take a look at some of those today. Here's the first one:
There is room for more.
Right now, Mizzou has 19 known commitments. Here they are, separated by recruiting ranking. The number in parentheses is the "Rivals Rating," which attempts to separate players with a given star rating into smaller groups.
- Four Stars (5.8): ATH Chase Abbington (St. Peters)
- Three Stars (5.7): QB Trent Hosick (Kansas City), QB Eddie Printz (Marietta, GA), WR J'Mon Moore (Missouri City, TX), DE Marcus Loud (Houston), DT Josh Augusta (Peoria, IL), DT Antar Thompson (Maplewood, MO)
- Three Stars (5.6): OL Clay Rhodes (Stilwell, KS), OL Harneet Gill (St. Charles), LB Eric Beisel (Fenton), LB Joe Burkett (Jefferson City), ATH Anthony Sherrils (Kansas City)
- Three Stars (5.5): TE Jason Reese (Euless, TX), OL Alec Abeln (St. Louis), DE Nate Crawford (Pensacola, FL), DT A.J. Logan (Columbia), DB Shaun Rupert (Montgomery, AL), ATH Donovahn Jones (Hampton, GA), ATH Aarion Penton (St. Louis)
That's 19. Supposedly Missouri has room for up to about 22-23, and there are still some names on the board who could end up Mizzou signees:
RB Ezekiel Elliott (**** 6.0, St. Louis). Perhaps you've heard of him? This year's DGB -- the No. 1 player in the state, the No. 84 recruit in the country -- committed to Ohio State in early April 2012, but he officially visited Missouri a couple of weeks ago (he took many unofficial visits in the fall) and received the full-court press from Mizzou's staff (and has continued to receive it since, supposedly). The poor folks at PowerMizzou have been struggling to get a feel for where Mizzou stands with him; it seems that for every insider tidbit saying he is 50/50, there is one saying Ohio State is still the far-and-away favorite. Pulling him away from Urban Meyer late in the process would be a lovely coup for Pinkel and company, but from everything you hear, one would have to think Mizzou's odds are 50/50 at best. My gut says Mizzou has about a 35% chance. That's better than the 0% I assumed a few weeks ago, but ... one should not call it a massive failure if Missouri can't get Elliott away from a school that a) is coached by a two-time national champion and b) went 12-0 last year.
TE Travis Johnson (*** 5.7, Tampa, FL). The former Miami commit visited Missouri in January and was thought to be the leader for his services at one point. That said, the hometown school, South Florida, got his final official visit, and the Bulls' new coach, Willie Taggart, showed at Western Kentucky that he will lean heavily on the tight end position. At this point, I assume USF is the favorite, and Missouri is the runner-up. The gut says Mizzou has about a 30% chance. And we won't have to wait until tomorrow to find out about this one. He's evidently committing tonight.
I will be officially committing tomorrow evening— Travis Johnson ⭐ (@IamFeedMe) February 5, 2013
OL Joshua Outlaw (*** 5.7, Lithonia, GA). Once committed to Florida, Outlaw's recruitment has taken quite a few twists and turns. Because of that, his final decision could be a surprise, but people seem to assume he will choose either TCU (visited January 18), Oklahoma (January 25), Missouri (January 28) or Texas Tech (this past weekend). His coach has no idea where he is going to go, but my gut says Mizzou and Oklahoma have a slightly better chance. (My gut's wrong a lot, mind you.) So we'll say Mizzou has, again, a 30% chance.
As you see above, any/all of these three would immediately become some of the higher-rated players on Missouri's list if they choose to sign with the Tigers. And as you see above, I don't really think Mizzou is the favorite to sign any one of them. Plan on Missouri missing on each and hope that perhaps the Tigers can pull an upset or two.
DB Duron Singleton (JUCO, Fresno, CA). Mizzou's chances of landing Singleton, however, seem quite a bit better. According to PowerMizzou's Pete Scantlebury, it appears Singleton is down to Mizzou and Syracuse, and his gut says Mizzou is the favorite. So we'll say Mizzou has about a 65% chance at this one. And you have to enjoy his Twitter handle.
I THINK I KNOW WERE I WILL WE PLAYIN AT NEXT YR....—Duron Singleton #2(@dahitman21) February 5, 2013
So there's that.
Later today, we'll look at the best ways to measure a recruiting class and a take a trip back in time.