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Missouri football recruiting 2016: Tigers likely aiming for 3-4 defensive backs

Missouri is likely looking to take three to four defensive backs in the 2016 recruiting class. Beyond Rockhurst's A.J. Taylor, good luck figuring out who they might be.

Cornerbacks and safeties

(* - could end up on offense or defense)

  • 2014 Signees: Kenya Dennis (Sr.), Thomas Wilson (So.), Logan Cheadle (So.), Tavon Ross (RSFr.), Finis Stribling IV (RSFr.), Ray Wingo* (RSFr.)
  • 2015 Signees: T.J. Warren (Fr.), Ronnell Perkins* (Fr.), Cam Hilton* (Fr.), Marquise Doherty* (Fr.)
  • Known 2016 Offers: 30-35
  • Known Commits: 1 (Greg Taylor)

Mizzou has known offers out to around 25-30 defensive linemen, about 20 linebackers, and around 30-35 defensive backs so far in this class. Most of these are of the "send 'em out to blue-chippers, just in case" variety, and almost none of those will bear fruit. Still, this gives us a sense of proportion. This isn't going to be a huge recruiting class, but if it contains 16-22 players, then in theory, eight to 12 of them will be defenders. Going by this distribution of offers, we can figure that will include three to four defensive backs.

My own instinct is that there is a greater need at cornerback than safety in this class. If you look at the current depth chart and project for 2016 (i.e. remove 2015 seniors Kenya Dennis, Ian Simon, David Johnson, and Cortland Browning), you're looking at two potential senior starters at cornerback (Aarion Penton, John Gibson) and, in theory, two juniors at safety (Anthony Sherrils, Thomas Wilson). Plus, of the potential defensive backs signed in the 2015 class, it's possible that all two to four will end up at safety.

Perhaps it makes sense, then, that Mizzou has dropped a couple of offers on high-profile JUCO recruits* (J'Marcus Rhodes of Kilgore JC and Maurice Chandler of NEO in Oklahoma, both of whom have large offer lists and are four-star prospects according to the 247Sports Composite). Rhodes appears to be an A&M lean, and Chandler, originally from Lawton, Ok., is assumed an OU lean since he has a Sooner offer. So we'll see if anything happens there.

* One interesting trend this year: not even including the two East St. Louis prospects who were committed to Mizzou in high school and are again (Nate Strong and Greg Taylor), Mizzou's offering JUCOs at quite a few positions. This is a pretty healthy way of aiming for talent, and considering they're offering only one or two at a given position (with closer to five on the offensive line), it seems like a "trolling the waters" thing more than an admission of fear about the depth of a given unit. So maybe they've just offered Rhodes and Chandler because they're really good players, not because of an impending CB need.

Beyond the JUCOs, who are some of the more interesting, semi-realistic names on the board? The list starts with an obvious one

ATH A.J. Taylor (Kansas City, MO) -- 5'11, 190, **** (Rivals), **** (247)

Taylor is a Rockhurst product with a lengthy offer list, and while the state is a bit lower in four-star talent this year, he is considered a top-300 product at worst. He's sturdy and explosive, and he could end up at RB, WR, CB, or safety. While WR or CB might be the biggest Mizzou needs, you play him wherever he's best at playing. Mizzou has been in good shape with Taylor for quite a while, but among other schools, Notre Dame is involved, as well, and this wouldn't be the first time the Irish got a Rockhurst kid.

S Isaiah Simmons (Olathe, KS) -- 6'3, 195, *** (Rivals), **** (247)

The Composite has Simmons rated almost equally to Taylor (Taylor ranks 275th in the country, Simmons 261st), and goodness knows Missouri has had some recruiting success in the Olathe area before. He's a lanky long-strider who hits like a linebacker, and he's got a solid offer list. The biggest obstacle: his brother Victor played for Kansas, and perhaps because of that as much as anything, he's considered a KU lean.

New head coach David Beaty is in his recruiting grace period right now -- a coach is never more dangerous on the recruiting trail than in his first couple of years, when none of his promises and goals can be proven wrong -- and that might pay off for him when it comes to Simmons.


I've got to say, this is a strange recruiting year. That Missouri is taking on a smaller class and is being more selective in its offers makes perfect sense, but we've entered May, and I'm honestly not sure I could come up with a full list of 16-20 players who even might be seriously considering Mizzou at the moment.

I don't say that as a way of sounding alarm bells, mind you. ("THEY'RE NOT GOING TO FIND ANY GOOD RECRUITS TO SIGN!") If there's one thing we know about this staff, it's that they're going to do things their way, they're going to send out quite a few offers over the summer, and they're going to unearth the same type of Emanuel Hall or Tavon Ross type of athletes they always find.

Still, this is unique. That the class is smaller is going to cut down on serious offers to a degree, and that they have barely found anybody in the state of Missouri worthy of an offer is slowing things down as well. Missouri will find high-upside athletes, and the current offers give us a glimpse of where Gary Pinkel and his staff are most heavily focusing. But in this series, when it came time to talk about the most obvious candidates ... there just haven't been many. And that's proving evident in the Hot List series that PowerMizzou just started as well (QBsRBs).

Because of the small numbers and the lack of local blue-chippers, you can already presume that this Mizzou class is going to rank near the bottom of the SEC's recruiting rankings (nearer than normal, that is), and until that actually slows Mizzou down on the field again, that isn't necessarily something to worry about. Following recruiting as a Mizzou fan is an odd experience: you can wring your hands if you want, but there's not much point to it.

Miami already has 20 commits in the 2016 class, Kentucky has 16, and Florida State has 14, and Mizzou's just wandering about, content with the three it already has (two of whom were committed, really, before the cycle even started), and doing what it does. It's funny, it will probably pay off just fine ... and it's making recruiting difficult to discuss this year.