Diving into bios, doing what we do, looking to 2014, and acknowledging that it's okay to be both excited and concerned.
1. Here's a boatload of links.
MUtigers.com: Football Announces 2013 Recruiting Class
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day News & Notes
The Missourian: Missouri's 2013 recruiting class announced
The Missourian: Missouri coaches not worried about low-ranked recruiting class
KC Star: Missouri football recruiting outlook
KC Star: Forget the rankings: MU's Pinkel is happy with recruiting class
Post-Dispatch: Pinkel likes recruiting class despite poor ranking
PowerMizzou: Coaches on the Commits
PowerMizzou: Mid-Missouri Tigers Make It Official
PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: Signing Day 2013
PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: New OC Josh Henson
KBIA Sports: Getting to know the newest Mizzou Tigers
College Spun: Meet the 20 New Additions to Mizzou Football
- Trent Hosick
We Are Mizzou: Trent Hosick
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: QB Trent Hosick
- Eddie Printz
We Are Mizzou: Eddie Printz
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: QB Eddie Printz
- Chase Abbington
We Are Mizzou: Chase Abbington
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: TB Chase Abbington
- Alec Abeln
We Are Mizzou: Alec Abeln
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: C Alec Abeln
- Josh Augusta
We Are Mizzou: Josh Augusta
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: DT Josh Augusta
- Eric Beisel
We Are Mizzou: Eric Beisel
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: LB Eric Beisel
- Joey Burkett
We Are Mizzou: Joey Burkett
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: LB Joey Burkett
- Nate Crawford
We Are Mizzou: Nate Crawford
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: DL Nate Crawford
- Harneet Gill
We Are Mizzou: Harneet Gill
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: OL Harneet Gill
- Charles Harris
We Are Mizzou: Charles Harris
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: DE Charles Harris
PowerMizzou: Harris, Mizzou take chance on each other
KC Star: Lincoln Prep defensive end commits to MU
- A.J. Logan
We Are Mizzou: A.J. Logan
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: DT A.J. Logan
- Marcus Loud
We Are Mizzou: Marcus Loud
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: DL Marcus Loud
- J'Mon Moore
We Are Mizzou: J'Mon Moore
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: WR J'Mon Moore
- Aarion Penton
We Are Mizzou: Aarion Penton
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: DB Aarion Penton
- Jason Reese
We Are Mizzou: Jason Reese
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: TE Jason Reese
- Clay Rhodes
We Are Mizzou: Clay Rhodes
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: OL Clay Rhodes
- Shaun Rupert
We Are Mizzou: Shaun Rupert
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: DB Shaun Rupert
- Anthony Sherrils
We Are Mizzou: Anthony Sherrils
- Duron Singleton
We Are Mizzou: Duron Singleton
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: S Duron Singleton
PowerMizzou: Singleton ready to play
- Antar Thompson
We Are Mizzou: Antar Thompson
The Trib (Dave Matter): Signing Day Spotlight: DT Antar Thompson
2. "We do what we do."
When Missouri is winning, it is all sorts of endearing when Gary Pinkel says "We do what we do." It's one of his favorite things to say, and in good times it's a reminder that the "process" works. And when times are less good, no phrase seems to drive Mizzou fans to violence more quickly than that. HE'S STUBBORN! WHAT "WE DO" ISN'T WORKING! HE'S NOT GOING TO MAKE ANY CHANGES! RABBLE RABBLE!
Pinkel dropped the magic phrase again at yesterday's recruiting press conference, and looking around at other corners of the Internet, it had the expected impact. Rabble, indeed. But really, I like it. I always have. The opposite of stubbornness is waffling; if Gary Pinkel were suddenly questioning the way he goes about his business, and if he were suddenly willing to change aspects of what "we do," the odds of failure are every bit as high as the odds of success.
The fate of Pinkel's tenure is pretty clearly (and quickly) going to be determined by whether what "we do" can work after an iffy season, one that needed a lot of bad injury luck and awful schedule timing to produce a below-.500 record. With an easier (in theory) schedule and a smaller (in theory) injury list, the Tigers should expect to return to the postseason next year. If they do so, then recruiting should, by nature, improve in 2014. And on a per-recruit basis, it wasn't even that bad in 2013. Whether what "we do" has a ceiling of 7-8 wins or 9-10 can be up for debate, but Gary Pinkel has no choice but to lean on his strengths after a trying year, and for all I'm concerned, he should just drop a "We do what we do" at the end of every sentence.
Coach, how did you think the quarterbacks looked today in the first spring scrimmage?
"Well, I was pretty happy with the way they performed we do what we do. You've got to have a good quarterback to succeed at this level we do what we do, and I think the competition we're seeing is going to benefit us quite a bit we do what we do."
Coach, can you tell us more about Henry Josey's progress?
"He's such a good kid we do what we do. Nobody works harder than that guy we do what we do."
3. It's okay to be excited and concerned.
This being the Internet and all, arguments about this recruiting class' merits immediately went to extremes. "This class is a miserable failure, one with no stars and no chance to succeed, and we have no choice but to just wait for Gary Pinkel to get fired so we can bring in a coach who will actually make us talented! Mike Alden should be fired immediately for not seeing this! Et cetera!" Pushing back against statements like that (and yeah, they exist and aren't hard to find) almost requires you to take an extreme position on the other end. This class is fine! Mizzou is in great shape! Et cetera. The in-between gets lost in arguments, but ... well ... everything is in-between.
Mizzou's 2013 recruiting class has plenty of players about whom it isn't hard to be excited. Chase Abbington is a four-star talent with a major offer list, a guy who could stick at running back or make one hell of a receiver, safety, linebacker, whatever. Clay Rhodes had a fantastic offer list, has already moved up to 285 pounds and looks like a ridiculous physical specimen. Eric Beisel is a picture-perfect, big-hitting linebacker with the size to move to DE if needed. Anthony Sherrils could have put together a lovely offer list if he hadn't committed so early. Jason Reese did fend off late interest from major schools and could have an immediate impact as a smooth, interesting tight end. Josh Augusta is a DT with loads of upside. Both QB signees are talented and exciting. And on down the list. You even have the human-interest stories in guys like Sherrils and Charles Harris. But still...
...even if you ignore recruiting rankings, it's clear that Missouri didn't quite land the class it wanted to land. You never really do, of course -- not even Alabama lands all of the first players it offers -- but obviously there was plenty of room for improvement here. And in the end, one can imagine the possibilities of a future linebacking corps that features Michael Scherer, Donavin Newom, Kentrell Brothers, Torey Boozer, Joey Burkett and Eric Beisel while still acknowledging that it could be even better if Nick Ramirez hadn't ended up at Kansas State.
One can still be perfectly intrigued by a future offensive line that includes Evan Boehm, Taylor Chappell, Clay Rhodes, etc., while still wondering what could have been if four-star lineman Jake Campos had stayed aboard.
One can marvel at Josh Augusta's potential while agreeing that four-star junior college transfer Ben Bradley (who ended up at Auburn) could have been incredibly useful in 2013.
One can start day-dreaming about a running back corps that features Henry Josey, Marcus Murphy and Chase Abbington while acknowledging that adding Ezekiel Elliott would have been amazing.
One can talk up Missouri's 2013-14 receiving corps as one of the SEC's best while wondering what could have been had Missouri won enough games to keep up in the recruitment of Laquon Treadwell (five-star receiver who ended up at Ole Miss).
One can root like hell for Charles Harris while wishing Dimarya Mixon had kept his commitment and not strayed to Nebraska. One can root like hell for A.J. Logan while wishing Kansas City DT Maliek Collins had given Mizzou a longer look (he also ended up at NU).
One can point out that Mizzou's per-recruit averages were really not that bad and still accept that they need to be better if Mizzou's ceiling is to be higher than about 8-4.
In the real world, we can be both excited and regretful. And in 2013, Missouri has plenty of reasons for both.
(I feel I've missed a golden opportunity to make a Jesse Spano "I'm so excited ... I'm so ... scared" reference here.)
So now we turn the page to 2014. Mizzou's Junior Day is coming up, and it very well might result in a few commitments. Maybe Mizzou turns its early offers into early commits like it did last year; maybe recruits take more of a wait-and-see approach this time around. The bottom line: If Missouri fares well on the field next fall, the Tigers should do pretty well with an in-state class that includes quite a few big names -- high four-star OL Andy Bauer (St. Louis), four-star OL Roderick Johnson (Florissant), and other early offers like RB Markel Smith (St. Louis -- already committed), WR Monte Harrison (Lee's Summit), OL Brian Wallace (St. Louis), ATH Raymond Wingo -- and big, semi-local players like really high four-star OL Braden Smith (Olathe), four-star RB Traevohn Wrench (Gardner, KS), TE Nic Weishar (Midlothian, IL), DE Dewayne Hendrix (O'Fallon, IL), DE Peyton Newell (Hiawatha, KS) and LB Kyron Watson (E. St. Louis). No matter how the early commitment season goes, good or bad, on-field results will dictate MIzzou's closing ability. It wasn't very good this year; it might be better next year. Here's to hoping.