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Missouri football recruiting 2016: Tigers are looking for a load of linemen

Mizzou will likely take five to six offensive linemen in its 2016 recruiting class and boasts just one commit (Webb City's Trystan Castillo) thus far.

We started this series with units (QB, RB, WR, TE) that probably aren't going to be enormous parts of the 2016 recruiting class. Now we get to the meat of the class.

Offensive line

  • 2014 Signees: Andy Bauer (RSFr.), Mike Fairchild (RSFr.), Sam Bailey (RSFr.), Kevin Pendleton (RSFr.)
  • 2015 Signees: Malik Cuellar (Jr.), Tyler Howell (Jr.), AJ Harris (Fr.), Tanner Owen (Fr.)
  • Known 2016 Offers: Tons. Like, 25-30.
  • 2016 Commits: Trystan Castillo (Webb City, Mo.)

By my count, Missouri has offered more offensive linemen than players at all other offensive positions combined. On one hand, this makes sense -- the offensive line does make up 45 percent of the offense on the field at any given time. But it's well over 45 percent of the offers in this class, and it's not hard to see why.

If we were to rank Missouri's top 10 offensive linemen when the season starts this fall, the order might look something like this:

1. Evan Boehm (Sr.)
2. Connor McGovern (Sr.)
3. Mitch Hall (Sr.)
4. Taylor Chappell (Sr.)
5. Brad McNulty (Sr.)
6. Clay Rhodes (So.)
7. Nate Crawford (So.)
8. Jordan Williams (Jr.)
9. Tyler Howell (Jr.)
10. Malik Cuellar (Jr.)

That's up for debate, of course, and it's conceivable that players like Rhodes and Crawford, the JUCOs, and any of four redshirt freshmen could crack the top 5 or 10 pretty easily. But it's certainly possible that the five best linemen could all be seniors, and that three of the next five could be juniors.

So yeah, Mizzou's loading up this year. Or trying, at least. Gary Pinkel and the staff have been preparing for next year's vacancies for a while, signing four freshmen in 2014 and two JUCOs in 2015. So if the right players develop, there won't be much of a need for any immediate help in 2016. You'll have Crawford and Rhodes, you'll have Cuellar and Howell, you'll have Bailey and Adams on the outside, you'll have Pendleton, Fairchild, and Bauer on the inside, etc. Still, depth is going to take a huge hit, and the number of offers suggests that Missouri knows it's time for another line-heavy class.

So ... who are they going to land? It is unfortunately looking like a pretty thin year for in-state linemen. Mizzou landed a recent commitment from Trystan Castillo, which was a start, and he looks like exactly the kind of athletic, projectable mauler Mizzou loves landing for interior line spots.

In the run game, he fires off the ball with tremendous force and his superb hand placement and ability to seal his blocks are advanced for a high school lineman. Is always cognizant of where his running back is going and even when he doesn't manhandle the man in front of him, does an excellent job of cutting him off and sealing his gap to ensure that he doesn't make the play. Above average as a puller and blocking in space. Runs well straight ahead, but has trouble turning the corner at times. Needs to stay low more consistently.

According to Rivals, Castillo is the No. 3 OL prospect in the state of Missouri for this class. The two above him, however -- Hannibal's Dylan Powell (No. 7 overall) and Rockhurst's Brendan McConnell -- don't have Mizzou offers. And while that could change over summer camp season, that is at least a little bit telling. Plus, Mizzou has offered only one high school lineman from Kansas (Topeka's Teven Jenkins), none from Illinois, and one from Iowa (Nebraska commit John Raridon). They have not yet found the locals to their liking.

Going by the proportion of offers compared to other positions, my guess is that Missouri's attempting to add five to six OLs to this class. One is in the bag, and I figure the odds are good that another Missouri prospect pops up at some point. But that still leaves at least three to four out-of-staters.

So far, Mizzou has aimed pretty high, offering six four-star prospects (three of which have now committed elsewhere) and going for guys from Hawaii (four-star Michael Eletise) to Cailfornia (four-stars Nathan Smith and Frank Martin II, both of whom have now committed to USC) to New Mexico (three-star Henry Hattis) to Michigan (Thiyo Lukusa, Cameron Kolwich) to Florida (lots).

It's too early to figure out who might be more realistic possibilities, but the offer to Hattis was certainly unique, being that he's from Rio Rancho, NM (not common recruiting ground) and doesn't boast a ton of major offers yet (listed offers: Arizona State, Washington State, Texas Tech, New Mexico, NMSU). We do enjoy the diamond-in-the-rough types, and he might fit the bill.

One other point to note: five of Mizzou's OL offers have gone to JUCO players. One (Snow College's Garrett Bolles) has committed to BYU, but the other four are still available, and they all have huge offer lists. None are currently mentioning Mizzou as leaders, though it is of course awfully early.

The makeup of Mizzou's offensive line haul will likely be one to two Missourians, a JUCO, and about three others from out of state. Beyond that, I guess we don't know a ton just yet.