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The Class of 2008

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It appears our class is filled in—no surprises this year—so I figured I would take the time to talk about my own expectations for this class based on what I’ve read on PowerMizzou, Inside Mizzou, mutigers.com, or the film I’ve seen at PowerMizzou, and just the general tendencies of a Pinkel class.

In other words, it’s time to give my own almost entirely uneducated guesses on who will be the stars of this class, who will be contributors, and who might not be much of anything.  And I’m going to try to avoid turning this into the kind of post that occasionally annoys me at PowerMizzou or Tigerboard—one where I state I "have a really good feeling about" every single person in the class.

(And I guarantee I’ll be wrong about at least half of these guys.)

I’m separating these players into three tiers.  Tier I = those about whom I’m most optimistic, Tier II = those about whom I’m relatively optimistic, and Tier III = those about whom I’m not pessimistic--I just don’t really have any expectations of them, good or bad.

Click 'Full Story' to read my picks, then discuss your own in comments.  Who are you most excited about?

Tier I (in alphabetical order)

Taylor Davis (Plano, TX)

One guarantee with a Mizzou recruiting class is that one of the best players in the class will be a relatively unheralded, overlooked Texan.  Stryker Sulak, Sean Weatherspoon, et cetera, et cetera.  I’m not sure what makes Taylor Davis a better prospect in my eyes than Daniel Jenkins, but...well, I’m the beholder, and Davis is the beauty.  I mean...uhh...anyway.  The great thing about our offense is that, with the success of Southlake Carroll (and others), more and more Texas high schools are running our exact offense.  So for the forseeable future, we’ll have a wealth of 6’5/270 Texas O-linemen who’ve been running our offense for a long time before they even set foot on campus.  That’s fantastic.  And I love that on his mutigers.com blurb, he lists snow skiing and wakeboarding as hobbies.  HE’S 6’5, 270.

Kip Edwards (Arlington, TX)

Some time in October, when it was obvious that this was going to be a pretty special season (and that spots in the class might start filling up pretty quickly), Mizzou had Edwards move his official visit up, basically suggesting that he was one of their top targets, and they wanted to make sure they had a spot for him.  That could be complete and total conjecture (what isn’t in recruiting?), but I like the sound of that.  He’s a 6’1/185 CB from the Dallas area.  I wouldn’t mind if we took a couple of those in every class.

Blaine Gabbert (Ballwin, MO)

Swear to God, two months ago I’d have put Gabbert in Tier II at best.  I couldn’t get over the fact that his team was 2-3 (I think) when he got injured for the season.  My thinking was, simply, that if you put Chase Daniel (the high school version) on any high school team in the country, he’d find a way to win games.  I was worried about Gabbert’s intangibles.  But I was swayed by just a couple passes.  I watched the US Army All-American Game (the series Gabbert was in, anyway), and my fears were alleviated.  On his first drive, he threw a decent fade pass for a TD (it wasn’t perfect, but it was thrown where only the WR could find it, which was nice).  On the next couple, he took what was given to him and never forced the issue (which was a concern).  But it was on one of his last drives where I officially became confident about him.  Down by his goalline, he took the snap and immediately found a rush end closing in from his blindside.  I’m still not sure how he evaded the rusher, Eli-like, but he did.  His speed and pocket presence got him out of trouble, and his vision and arm strength got the ball to a receiver (throwing across his body) for a decent gain.  I don’t even think it earned a first down, but in one play Gabbert showed me every single one of the tools that earned him Rivals’ #1 ranking in the pro-style QB category.  He might not have Daniel’s intangibles, but I’m not sure anybody does.

Dan Hoch (Harlan, IA)

It’s nice stumbling across the #1 player in Iowa and locking him down after just one visit.  Friend of Gabbert and Andrew Jones = friend of mine.

Jerrell Jackson (Houston, TX)

My other major sleeper candidate.  As a senior, he caught 42 passes for 978 yards (23.3 ypc) and 18 TD’s.  Considering he was playing in 4A in the Houston area, that’s pretty sick.  Not sure why he wasn’t more heavily recruited (Academic issues?  No idea), but at 6’2/180, he’ll come into school looking like Will Franklin...if he can duplicate those numbers, needless to say I’d be thrilled.

Andrew Jones (Smithville, MO)

Plenty’s already been said about this kid, but he’s already been as good a Mizzou ambassador as anybody on the team.  In limited action at the US All-American game, he showed that he was a fluid athlete as well—a requirement for a Mizzou TE.  Nothing not to like about this kid.

Gahn McGaffie (Galena Park, TX)

Everybody looks good on their Rivals.com film...but Gahn (pronounced "John") looked really good.  He’s little (5’11/180), but he’s super-shifty. The odds are decent that either Jackson or McGaffie will end up on the defensive side of the ball, but at the same time, their skill set might demand that they have the ball in their hands.  I’d say (sight mostly unseen, of course) that McGaffie will be one of the leading candidates to replace Jeremy Maclin at PR in a couple years.

Travis Ruth (Jefferson City, MO)

He was the first kid to commit to the ’08 class, and those guys can be pretty easily forgotten.  But I reallize like the size and (apparent) strength/agility of this kid, I love that Mizzou’s in his blood (his brother John walked on a couple years ago), and needless to say we’ve had decent luck with JC products in the past.  (Infallible logic, I realize.)

Tier II

Michael Egnew (Plainview, TX)

A Mizzou Internet Legend.  He’s already 6’6!  And he’s got the frame to carry 270!  He’s going to be a monster!!!  Okay, he’s 6’5/210, but he’s obviously got some potential as a sleeper in his own right (if a Mizzou Internet Legend can be a sleeper).  I love that he’s a long- and triple-jumper, though I do wonder how a 6’5 leaper could only score 5 TDs in 34 catches.

Zaviar Gooden (Pflugerville, TX)

I almost put him in Tier I in place of McGaffie, just for the fact that he canceled an Oklahoma visit to commit to Mizzou.  Over the course of his senior year, he’s gone from 195 to 210, furthering what Gabe has said about the Mizzou staff seeing him as a potential stud LB.  Get him to 6’2/220, and watch him fly around the field.

Daniel Jenkins (Gilmer, TX)

Supposedly another kid who was getting late attention from OU (pure rumor).  He had 66 pancake blocks as a freshman in high school, and had at least 88 pancakes in every progressive season.  Not sure how much familiarity he has with the spread, but he was obviously a monster in Texas 3A.

Wes Kemp (St. Louis, MO)

Seems to be a WR/TE tweener, and I’m very curious about what route Mizzou takes with his development.  That uncertainty kept him out of Tier I, but his familiarity with Gabbert (they seem to be best buds, as Gabbert does with about 15 different Mizzou recruits) helps.

Aldon Smith (Raytown, MO)

Here’s where my perceptions get me into trouble: my main reason for keeping him out of Tier I was because Tarell Corby was from the KC area and failed at Mizzou.  That’s completely silly—Raytown and North KC have almost nothing in common, plus Smith’s already at 235, while Corby couldn’t seem to maintain anything beyond 220.  Of the 38 DEs in this class, Smith has probably the best pedigree.

Robert Steeples (St. Louis, MO)

He of the famous "I had no idea that Mizzou had so much to offer—people in St. Louis don’t think much of them" quote (paraphrased).  Gotta love the DeSmet pipeline that formed this year.  Seems to be a hard hitter and a positive, energetic kid.  Works for me.

Drew Temple (Kansas City, MO)

Tony Temple says his little brother is better than he is, but...well...what’s an older brother supposed to say?  It sounds like Drew has developed the same reputation that Tony had coming out of high school—explosive athlete who doesn’t necessarily bring it every play.  I can see him succeeding at Mizzou, but I think it’ll take a couple years.  Again, I have little to no reason for thinking like that.

Rolandis Woodland (St. Louis, MO)

Another explosive WR in high school (26.7 ypc and 13 TDs his senior year), you can’t have too many 6’5 all-around athletes.  People are pegging him as one of the more likely WRs to play as a true freshman.  The extra year of experience in prep school can’t hurt that perception.  He’s obviously more physically ready for D1 than McGaffie.  We’ll see.

Tier III

Jimmy Burge (Houston, TX)

Just as likely as Davis or Jackson or anybody else to be an impact sleeper.  His resume isn’t quite as impressive as Jenkins or other linement, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Will Ebner (Friendswood, TX)

Already very well-known in Mizzou circles for the YouTube Hit of the 2008 Class...

...look, that’s a great hit, but wasn’t exactly perfect form.  If it were great form, he’d be in Tier I in a heartbeat.  As it is, I like everything I’ve read about the kid, but...well...somebody’s gotta be in Tier III.

Kenji Jackson (Mansfield, TX)

Was listed at 170 or so in the Rivals database, and showed up at 200 on the mutigers.com release.  That’s always fun.  Kenji’s another kid I’ve heard nothing but good things about, but again...not everybody’s going to be a star.  His Rivals.com film shows that he’s pretty smart and a good hitter.

Brad Madison (S. Harrison, MO)

Another MO small-towner with Mizzou in his blood.  Supposedly he’s going to start out at DE, which throws him in the mix with a lot of other kids.  My bet is, he ends up at DT.

Marcus Malbrough (Beaumont, TX)

Impressive-but-not-spectacular numbers in high school, I always like it when a kid screws over the Hawkeyes in favor of Mizzou.  (Yes, I’m still a bit bitter about Adrian Clayborn.)

Munir Prince (St. Louis, MO)

Munir’s transfer was phenomenal for PR purposes, but...well...he was a third-string DB for Notre Dame.  If he’s playing a featured role in 2009, that might mean a couple other recruits didn’t pan out.  He could be another potential kick returner when Maclin departs.

Jacquies Smith (Dallas, TX)

On height, weight, and stats, he’s pretty much indistinguishable from Malbrough.  Looks bigger than 225 on his film.  As long as either J. Smith, Malbrough, A. Smith, or Madison is ready to roll as a RSFr in 2009, we should maintain solid depth after Sulak, Chavis, and Townson depart.

George White (Detroit, MI)

I really don’t know what position White is supposed to play—we don’t have many 250-pound LBs (he’s listed as RB/LB), and we’ve got a massive logjam at DE.  Maybe he pulls a ‘Zo Williams and bulks up to DT after a couple years, but honestly I don’t know what to think about him.  And his academic issues put up at least a small red flag for me.