2015 Missouri football recruiting: Assessing the Tigers' needs after a fantastic week

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The last week was very good for the future of Missouri's football program. With five commits in the books, let's once again assess the needs of the Tigers for this class.

Let's take stock. Missouri has scored three four-star commitments in the last week or so, and that's fantastic, but what does that mean for the class of 2015 as a whole? Depends on what Missouri needs, right?

Needs

A couple of months ago, after the 2014 class had wrapped up, I set the table for 2015 with a little exercise. It wasn't the greatest math in the world, but it did the trick. I combined a formula I've been using for a long time with Missouri's known 2015 offers to come up with a breakout of team needs for 2015.

First, my formula.

  1. Look at the first, second, and third string for a given position or unit.
  2. Add one point for every senior, 0.5 points for every junior, and 0.25 points for every sophomore.
  3. Subtract 0.25 points for every redshirting freshman.

That's pretty much it. If you add these totals up, you're not going to get a perfect representation for the scholarships a team has available, but it will give you a pretty good idea.

Three things:

A) I forgot a fourth step in there. I also tend to add 0.5 points for every three-deep slot not currently occupied by either a (non-redshirting) scholarship player or a star walk-on (i.e. the Max Copeland or Tommy Saunders type who is beating scholarship players on the two-deep).

B) Players we assume are going pro after this year -- Dorial Green-Beckham, for instance -- are counted as seniors and given one full point.

C) The numbers have changed since February. Quite a few soon-to-be seniors have elected to finish their careers or transfer. And we will continue to assume that all freshmen redshirt until notified otherwise.

The offers list has changed as well, obviously. For this exercise, we use the Rivals.com offer list. Sometimes when a player eliminates Missouri, he disappears from the offer list, and sometimes he stays there in perpetuity. It's neither a comprehensive list of all offers nor a comprehensive list of players considering Mizzou a viable contender. But if we assume proportionality among those who either shouldn't be on this list and are, or should but aren't, then this will do just fine.

Got all that? So assuming for now that this class will use 24 scholarships -- that number could obviously go up or down depending on attrition -- here are the approximate needs for the 2015 class by position.

Position/Unit Bill's Formula Known Offers ~Needs Commits
QB 2.2% 3.7% 1 1 (Drew Lock)
RB 5.4% 11.1% 2 3 (Chase Abbington, Nate Strong, Ryan Williams)
WR 16.1% 9.9% 3 0
TE 2.2% 7.4% 1 0
OL 26.9% 16.0% 5 1 (AJ Harris)
DE 6.5% 13.6% 3 0
DT 11.8% 7.4% 2 0
LB 11.8% 12.3% 3 0
CB 5.4% 11.1% 2 0
S 11.8% 7.4% 2 0

There are some moderate differences between my numbers and the offers at a few positions. At running back, defensive end, and cornerback, Mizzou has offered quite a few more players than Mizzou's roster would suggest the Tigers need. Meanwhile, my numbers suggest the need for a few more receivers and offensive linemen than have been offered to date.

Chase Abbington is still listed as a running back, but there have been rumbles for a while that he might end up on the defensive side of the ball, perhaps at safety. At 6'2, 210 or so, he certainly fits into the "bigger safety" stereotype. At that size, he also fits the bill of Typical Missouri Receiver, so we'll see what happens here. All I know is that Mizzou has a glut at running back moving forward. In 2015, if Abbington doesn't change positions (and redshirts as planned this fall), the Tigers will have senior Russell Hansbrough, junior Morgan Steward, sophomore Chase Abbington, redshirt freshmen Trevon Walters and Ish Witter, and freshmen Nate Strong and Ryan Williams. That's a lot considering Mizzou doesn't exactly utilize a two-back set very frequently.

One interesting thing to watch here, by the way: If Abbington does indeed switch to safety, does he still redshirt as planned? He ended up playing as a true freshman at Hutchinson CC because of injuries at the running back position, and the plan was to redshirt him this year so that he'd have three years to play three seasons. But if the idea is to move him to safety, does Mizzou allow him to play safety at Hutch this year? The alternative is him coming to Columbia having never played (in college) the position he'll be assigned. Obviously he could practice at safety for Hutch in 2014 while still redshirting, but it'll be interesting to see if the plan changes with the position change.

Uncle Mo

One of the biggest reasons Drew Lock gave for committing as early as he did was that he wanted to basically serve as a chief recruiter for the rest of the recruiting cycle. That's tremendous, especially considering the "Mizzou has momentum!" story lines associated with landing three four-star recruits in a week. Lock made a point to mention that he was having regular chats and conversations with other high-profile Missouri athletes -- namely, Rock Bridge receiver Alex Ofodile and Helias tight end Hale Hentges, both of whom are four-star prospects according to Rivals -- and this is a very good thing.

But if momentum is actually a thing in recruiting, what does it mean exactly? Well, it means better odds of landing Ofodile and Hentges, obviously. Mizzou faces extreme competition from these two and may not land either one, but having Lock in their ear helps Mizzou's cause at least a bit. And one figures it can only help in the recruitment of other Missourians with offers: four-star KC Winnetonka athlete Marquise Doherty (also listed as a running back but considered a strong defensive back as well), three-star John Burroughs running back (yep, running back) John Moten, and Webster Groves athlete Cam Hilton. (We'll see if the glut at running back dissuades these players from coming aboard.)

Beyond that, though, momentum might not mean much in the short-term. Where it could come in most handy is in the fall, when Lock presumably makes a series of unofficial visits two hours to his east and hangs out with whichever prospects are visiting the school that week.

So what happens now?

Alex Ofodile has announced that he'll be making his decision in late-May, but aside from that I assume we're into the "random commitment from a diamond-in-the-rough type" portion of the recruiting calendar. If you've been following Mizzou recruiting under Pinkel, you know this season well. Maybe Mizzou scores a commitment or two around the Spring Game next weekend -- one would assume that if that happens, it will be some of the more local kids with offers, the Cam Hiltons or John Motens of the world. But after that, we're probably looking at a series of out-of-staters.

Between April 20 and July 24 of last year, Mizzou scored commitments from 11 players, eight of whom were out-of-staters and nine of whom were either two-star recruits or had the lowest three-star designation via Rivals.com. It was the most prolific "diamond in the rough" recruiting season Mizzou has had. I wouldn't expect quite that many this time around -- Mizzou is, after all, in on a lot more high-profile recruits this time around, and most of those players won't commit somewhere until the fall or winter -- but you're almost guaranteed to see a few.

(This is also known as the portion of the recruiting calendar in which certain corners of the Mizzou internet freak out and lash out at Gary Pinkel for giving out offers to no-name kids who clearly aren't any good because they don't have any offers from anybody good. A lot of these players will then have breakout senior seasons and get offers from bigger-name schools, and a lot of the same people will then go back to lavishing praise on Pinkel for his ability to mine the diamonds in the rough. It's the most fun, reliable part of the Mizzou recruiting calendar.)

If Mizzou gets a commitment from a [random position]...

Let's play a quick guessing game. I'll list the positions above and basically give my "If Mizzou gets a commitment from a [position] in the coming weeks, who is it?" answer. This is based on either what I've read at PowerMizzou or the trends I've picked up on from nearly almost 15 years of following recruiting -- I don't exactly have any inside sources here. Feel free to give your own guesses in comments.

  • Quarterback: I don't believe Mizzou will be taking anymore quarterbacks in this class, but if it were to happen, it would almost be someone with a different skill set, more of a dual-threat type. Mizzou has (well, had) an offer out to four-star Texas dual-threat Chason Virgil, so I guess he's the answer, but ... not happening.

  • Running Back: Mizzou threw some offers out to some big-time prospects, but I assume if Mizzou gets anymore commitments here, it will be from the in-staters (who might change positions) above: Marquise Doherty or John Moten.

  • Wide Receiver: Well, we know Alex Ofodile will be deciding in the next six to seven weeks (and honestly, my gut says he goes to Oklahoma*), but if someone commits before then, one has to figure it will be from one of the out-of-staters who has had an offer for quite a while and whose stock hasn't quite erupted yet. Georgia receiver Nekyle Lundie, maybe.

    * My gut is wrong a lot.

  • Tight End: Georgia tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe visited Mizzou with his brother this past weekend and left declaring Mizzou the leader. Of course, he just visited Florida as well and left saying pretty similar things. He mentioned that a decision could come soon if one school clearly stands out over others. So even if Florida has a very good shot now, I'd say that if Mizzou gets a TE commitment soon, it's from him. Olathe's Josh Moore is a candidate as well, though he seems to be taking his time as more offers come in.

  • Offensive Line: I figure Mizzou gets at least a couple of two- or three-star O-line commits in the coming months. The Tigers have offered a ton and figure to need quite a few, and it would fit the bill if someone like Alabama's Brandon Kennedy, Georgia's Zach Giella, Kansas' Scott Frantz, or perhaps Florida's Brendan Loftus were to randomly commit at some point. Jacksonville, Ill., product Gabe Megginson would be a big one, but he's scored quite a few big offers of late. (Yes, I just threw a few names out there instead of one. Sue me.) And it seems Mizzou almost always lands a small-school Missouri lineman in the summer months; there aren't any offers currently out, but there's always a chance that someone like Webb City's Dalton Ford wins the Justin Britt Commemorative Scholarship that Sam Bailey scored last year.

  • Defensive End: Mizzou has aimed really, really high at the defensive end position this year, and why not? The Tigers certainly have some buzz there. But with a ton of four-star offers out, that minimizes the likelihood of an early commitment. Still, there are some names to watch; to throw one out there, I'll say Georgia's Titus Davis. I'd say Hutchinson (CC) end Marquavius Lewis is one to watch here, but he has offers from almost literally everybody, so he's likely to take his time (or commit to someone like Alabama).

  • Defensive Tackle: For the second straight year, tackle isn't a heavy need. Mizzou has minimal offers out right now, and if someone is going to commit, it's probably not going to be a four-star prospect. That leaves just one name: Florida's Kyle Henderson.

  • Linebacker: Suwanee (Ga.) product Anree Saint-Amour has had an offer for quite a while now and comes from a place Mizzou knows well. I get no impression that he's itching to commit quickly, but he's probably the most likely. Maybe Texas' Richard Moore jumps in, but as with defensive end, Mizzou's aiming really high here, and most of the players Mizzou has offered have offers from just about everybody.

  • Cornerback: We were teased with the mention that Gilmer (Tx.) corner Kris Boyd, a top-100 overall prospect, likes Mizzou and will consider the Tigers because of Braylon Webb, also a Gilmer product. But even if that comes to fruition, it will likely take a while. So in the short term, we look at other Texas products: James Lock (Beaumont) or Jaylon Lane (Nacogdoches), perhaps.

  • Safety: Keep your eye on Georgia's Joshua Thomas, who has listed Mizzou as a favorite for a while. (Rivals lists him as a fullback, but no.)

I'll be thrilled if I get even one of these guesses right. I just thought this would be a fun exercise.

Pipelines

One other thing I wanted to mention about this class so far: pipelines. Seemingly the entire damn East St. Louis football team visited Missouri this week; the foothold Mizzou has suddenly gained there has been staggering. Getting Nate Strong to commit (a few months after Greg Taylor signed), getting Sheldon Richardson in the ear of Terry Beckner, Jr., offering 2017 prospect Jeff Thomas absurdly early (especially for Mizzou). Mizzou is putting on the full-court press, and so far, good things seem to be coming from it.

Meanwhile, North Gwinnett High in Suwanee seems to be the East St. Louis of Georgia at the moment. After signing Suwanee product Nate Brown in the last class, Mizzou has offered three more players this year -- Daniel Imatorbhebhe, Anree Saint-Amour (a four-star prospect according to the 247 Composite), and two-star receiver Almonzo Brown. And on a recent visit with his brother, Mizzou also offered 2016 receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe.

Every player has a mind of his own, and simply having good roots down in a school does not guarantee that Mizzou will land player after player from that given school. But it's been fun to watch the buds sprouting this spring. Gary Pinkel has been trying for nearly 15 years to establish a strong relationship in ESL, and for one reason or another, it didn't really happen. (The relatively negative experience of running back Damien Nash here a decade ago probably didn't help.) It's happening now.

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