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2015 Missouri recruiting recap: The future of the receiving corps and defensive backfield

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Missouri needed immediate help at receiver and long-term help in the defensive backfield. Gary Pinkel and company signed plenty of candidates in both areas, and now we wait to see who steps up and where.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Here are two things we definitely know about Missouri's 2015 recruiting class:

1. Missouri needed receivers.

2. Missouri signed a lot of guys who could end up as either receivers or defensive backs.

There are seven signees who will likely end up as either WRs or DBs. Hell, include the three (listed) running backs, and there could be as many as 10 guys getting shuffled between RB, WR, and DB. We talked about Chase Abbington, Marquise Doherty, and Ryan Williams in Monday's running backs piece, so let's focus on the other seven now.

Emanuel Hall

MISSOURI SIGNEE: WR Emanuel Hall - Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Behind The Stripes
PowerMizzou.com - Coaches on the Class

On Emanuel Hall: "The thing about it, I think Emanuel is a guy that's physically able to play early. He's right about 6-2 1/2, 6-3, but he's right at 200 pounds. He should be able to come in probably kind of like a Nate Brown did for us last year. That guy that can come in and compete and play as a freshman from a physical standpoint. He's also a guy that had just unbelievable improvement from his sophomore year to his senior year. We hope that he takes another step from his senior year to his freshman year and has a great desire to play early. Very mature guy for his age. Very mature."

Johnathan Johnson

MISSOURI SIGNEE: WR Johnathon Johnson - Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Behind The Stripes

In His Coach’s Words: "In my opinion, he's the best slot all-around player in the country. People think I say that because I coached him. The kid has an old-school mentality when it comes to work ethic. The kid works his tail off. He's super, super talented. He's super fast. He has no weaknesses. The kid's 5-9, but if he was 6-foot he could play quarterback, and I think he's be one of the best quarterbacks in the country. The kid can throw. He can cover. He can run routes. He can get in the backfield and run the ball. He's going to be one of the top returners in the country as soon as he hits the field. The kid is unbelievable returning the ball, punt-wise and especially kick returner. He's just a dynamic playmaker. He's going to be one of the best players in the country when he hits the field. There's no doubt about it." -- Eddie Woods, Melrose

Justin Smith

MISSOURI SIGNEE: WR Justin Smith - Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Behind The Stripes
Tigers look fill size gaps in receiving corps - Columbia Missourian

"If you can have a tall, fast guy, that’s the best thing," quarterback coach Andy Hill said. "If you have a whole bunch of them, that’d be great. It’s very hard to get that combination. So we have a tall guy and we have a couple fast guys."

Missouri will try to replenish that depth with Smith, 6-7, and Hall, 6-3, to allow Mauk to attack with the deep ball.

Richaud Floyd

MISSOURI SIGNEE: WR Richaud Floyd - Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Behind The Stripes
MUTIGERS.COM: Mizzou Announces 2015 Signing Class

Incredible speed and quickness make him a great route runner and a homerun threat every time he hits the field, traits that helped distinguish himself to the Mizzou coaches … Extremely versatile player with big-time speed … A four-star recruit according to ESPN, he ranks as the 37th-best wideout nationally by the website … Dubbed a top-20 recruit in the state of Mississippi by Rivals.com and a top-15 recruit in the state by 247Sports … Named Mississippi Power Player of the Week on Sept. 30 after running for 245 yards and four TDs while passing for 117 yards and another score in a 42-24 win over St. Martin … Dual-threat QB as a senior at Gulfport who passed for nearly 1,500 yards and had 13 touchdowns in 2014 and added 1,067 more rushing yards

Ronnell Perkins

MISSOURI SIGNEE: ATH Ronnell Perkins - Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Behind The Stripes
MUTIGERS.COM: Mizzou Announces 2015 Signing Class

An athletic player with incredible speed and quickness who figures to add explosiveness to both sides of the football … Rated as the No. 11 recruit in the state of Missouri by Rivals … Suburban All-Conference Selection … Served as team captain each of his last two seasons, and was a two-time All-Conference performer on the gridiron … Caught 30 passes for 500 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior, while he made 55 tackles on defense, and returned two kicks for scores, as well … Outstanding sprinter who was an All-State performer on the oval in the 100 meter event for University City … Hauled in 34 passes for 639 yards and nine scores as a junior while adding 83 tackles and two interceptions on defense

T.J. Warren

MISSOURI SIGNEE: CB T.J. Warren - Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Behind The Stripes

Where Does He Fit?: Missouri seems pretty set at cornerback in the short term, with Kenya Dennis, John Gibson and Aarion Penton all due back next season. Warren’s an interesting prospect, though, because he seems to split the difference between the two styles of corner the Tigers are seeking. He’s as big, but not as thick as Dennis. He has the track and field bona fides and the straight-line speed of a player like Gibson. He’s like a stouter, not as quick Raymond Wingo. With a year of waiting and learning, he could definitely make some meaningful headway on the depth chart as a redshirt freshman.

Cam Hilton

MISSOURI SIGNEE: S Cam Hilton - Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Behind The Stripes

In An Analyst’s Words: "Competitive free safety who diagnoses early indicators of backfield flow and converges suddenly to the ball. Very solid in run support. Defensive playmaker with fine ball skills.As a versatile wide receiver, sells vertical on every snap to earn the needed space for underneath effectiveness. Insightful route runner with an assortment of separation techniques and impressive hops. Can make the high degree of difficulty catch, blocks, and is rarely caught from behind. " -- Danny Heitert, STC Grid Reports

Who do you think can have the biggest early impact for Mizzou at WR in 2015?

The Beef: Justin Smith certainly has some height and presents some immediate matchup problems, even if those are simplified down to short yardage instances. But I also think the staff is high on Kendall Blanton for this season, so maybe Blanton’s presence in the offense (albeit as a TE) keeps the RS on Smith this season. Floyd is REALLY fast, and Johnson sounds like someone the staff is excited about stepping into the special teams role left by Murphy’s graduation. DB wise, I think we are sitting OK to be able to RS the guys who end up there, so my vote is with Floyd as a WR and JJ supplanting MM.

AlaTiger: Assuming that part of Mauk’s 2013 success was due to his receiver’s height as well as skill, Justin Smith might be the answer. Given that the 2014 problem appeared to be the ability to get separation, speed may be the key, so Floyd on Johnson might be the answer. I’m going to go with…Johnson.

Bill C.: I figure Hall is the most likely to contribute early, if only because he's probably the closest thing to a finished product at this point. Smith is still relatively inexperienced because he chose to focus on football pretty late in high school, and the smaller guys are, well, smaller. That doesn't eliminate them, obviously -- Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy both saw the field as 180-pound true freshmen -- but I would say it at least decreases their odds a bit. Hall, though, is not as big as Smith and not as fast as Johnson/Floyd/Hilton, so I'll put him at the top of the list for now.

Fullback U.: Emanuel Hall and Justin Smith. I've already dubbed them Hemanuel Hall and MechaGodzilla.

Who do you figure has the most productive career over the next five years?

The Beef: Tough to measure productivity and compare WR’s to DB’s, but Cam Hilton just feels like someone who comes close to seeing the field this season, becomes a special teams star and spot player as a RS frosh and then is very solid for us to finish his last three years. But man alive, Floyd and JJ are fast.

dcrockett17: I cannot even begin to think I am remotely well-informed enough to weigh in on these players' respective talent and physical development. As a first principle I'd suggest that the person or persons who contribute the most consistently too the running game (as blockers) will be in the best position to see time early.

Fullback U.: The guy who stays healthiest? Wild guess: Justin Smith.

Bill C.: My guess is still Hall, but as Beef said, Floyd and Johnson are hard to ignore because of their pure speed. Whoever is able to pack on a bit of muscle and stay healthy is going to have every chance in the world of becoming a world-class slot receiver.

Heading into 2015, Mizzou will have a pretty exciting load of sophomores (Logan Cheadle, Thomas Wilson, Anthony Sherrils, Shaun Rupert), redshirt freshmen (Tavon Ross, Ray Wingo, Finis Stribling), and freshmen (Warren and maybe Hilton, Perkins, or even Doherty) in the defensive backfield. Of that batch, who are you most excited about?

The Beef: Thomas Wilson had some nice contributions in limited chances last year. Cheadle sounded close as well. Sherrils and Rupert sound like solid special team’ers, and that is just fine, though Sherrils at least has his name on the depth chart.. Tavon Ross is someone I am really excited about, probably just a bit more so than Hilton.

dcrockett17: I can say what excites me about the batch more precisely than who excites me from the batch. The special teams excites me, particularly coverage. Coverage has been a bit of a shoulder shrug recently. I'd expect to see marked improvement. We have some serious athletes in the secondary and at LB who won't see the field without excelling on teams. Potential game-breaking return skills will show themselves in time, early in all likelihood. All we can really do is wait to see from whom.

AlaTiger: Ross, because film. Cheadle, because Don. Wingo, because NFL brother. Okay, I used it three times (because lazy – now four), and I still hate that construct. I do think there’s a lot of athleticism in the group as a whole that will serve the team well in multiple capacities.

Bill C.: I'm in the front car of the Tavon Ross Bandwagon, but everybody already knew that, so that answer's too easy. I'll instead say that I enjoyed what Thomas Wilson was able to do in limited time, and I love Cam Hilton's fearlessness on film. And it bears mentioning that Anthony Sherrils looked excellent on special teams this year (to my eye, anyway), which speaks well of him considering the example set by Kentrell Brothers (great on ST in 2012, starter in 2013-14) and Donavin Newsom (great on ST in 2013, starter in 2014).

With Simon and Browning leaving after 2015, give me your stab at Mizzou's safety two-deep in 2016. (Don't worry about FS vs SS, just give me first-stringers and second-stringers.)

The Beef: Again, I err on the side of the names on the depth chart now are going to be tough to supplant. To me, Sherrils may battle Browning for the spot this year (since Webb and Singleton are gone) and Wilson will be right behind Simon. If you flip to 2016, those are the two starters in my eyes. Rupert and maybe Perkins (only because he is a little bigger than Hilton now) could be in place as well, with Ross probably also right in the mix.

dcrockett17: Ross and Wilson/Sherrils

AlaTiger: Wilson and Ross backed up by Sherrils and (throws dart)…Wingo.

Bill C.: I love the thought of a Wilson/Ross starting tandem. And we'll say Sherrils and either Warren or 2014 sign-and-place Greg Taylor on the second string.