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Greg Taylor, the first piece of Mizzou’s East St. Louis pipeline, is leaving the team

Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

South Carolina Gamecocks v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

I never explicitly make transfer projections. I never want to be seen as starting rumors when I’m really just making educated guesses. But I always say that the guys most likely to leave are a) guys about to be juniors or seniors who are b) on the third string (or lower) with at least one or two young players ahead of them. If they’re from out of state, that makes them even more likely.

If I had created a list, then, Greg Taylor would have been on it. The East St. Louis product waited a couple of extra years to make it to Columbia and was steadfast in his commitment even after the November 2015 protests and Gary Pinkel’s retirement. It was easy to root for him to succeed.

Regardless, he was struggling to find a role, and as a junior-to-be, he was heading into 2017 behind not only two seniors-to-be (Anthony Sherrils, Thomas Wilson), but also junior Cam Hilton, sophomore Ronnell Perkins, and most likely junior Kaleb Prewett, a Kansas State transfer.

Maybe likely playing time had nothing to do with his tweetstorm above, and maybe he was truly treated unfairly by Barry Odom and Mizzou’s new staff. Regardless, he was unhappy, and he’s leaving. (Here’s your reminder that at least five to seven more will also be leaving if Mizzou wants to sign the number of recruits it wants to sign in this class.)

Taylor seems like a perfectly decent guy, but it was also easy to hope for success because of what it might mean for Mizzou’s East St. Louis recruiting pipeline. After years of toil, Gary Pinkel, Cornell Ford, and company made massive progress late in Pinkel’s career, reeling in Taylor, Nate Strong, Terry Beckner Jr., and Tre’vour Simms in a short amount of time. The Tigers scored a summer commitment from quarterback Rey Estes as well, and they have been long considered a major player in the recruitment of blue-chip receiver Jeff Thomas.

It sounded as if Estes’ commitment may have wavered of late, however, and uh, it doesn’t appear that Thomas ranks Mizzou too highly at the moment.

Well then. Simms and Strong could be well on their way to solid careers in Columbia, and if Beckner can keep his knees healthy, he still has time to become the blue-chip wrecking ball he was supposed to be. But ... it appears whatever ground Mizzou had made just east of the Mississippi River has been ... unmade.

Recruiting is fun!

Taylor apparently isn’t the only one less-than-fond of Odom at the moment. Add Steve Spurrier to the list. Spurrier, a friend of Gary Pinkel’s, chatted with CBS’ Dennis Dodd about a wide array of topics, and Mizzou came up.

Finally, there is a biting critique of Missouri as coach Barry Odom popped up on the TV.

"All of a sudden, instead of running the ball like they used to, they're a passing team," Spurrier said. "Now they're all sorts of soft. They can't stop the run and they can't run. Bo Schembechler, what'd he say? Running teams are tougher teams."

That's an odd conclusion from the coach who arguably brought the modern passing game to the SEC. But odd is what got all of us here to check out the third floor.

Granted, Mizzou got better at running the ball three or four games into the season, just as it was starting to get quite a bit worse at stopping the run, but forget it, he’s rolling.

Other links

Sparks began to think about a commitment to Missouri a few days ago. But an offer from Purdue gave him some pause. His older brother, Jared, is a redshirt freshman for the Boilermakers.

"It definitely did," Sparks said. "That goes from when I very first started playing football. That brought a different perspective to things. I know my brother is going to be successful where he's at, but at the end of the day I felt Missouri was the best place for me."

More on Sparks from B&G Illustrated, The Trib, and the KC Star.