The 2019 football recruiting cycle is finished, and once again, the Tigers appear to be toward the bottom of the SEC’s class rankings.
However, when discussing football recruiting, I have to admit that I’m a bit tired of the, “Missouri can’t recruit with the big boys,” narrative.
Don’t take that as a peddling of the, “stars don’t matter,” counterpoint. Stars do matter, as pointed out by David earlier this week. However, it’s prudent to realize that Missouri will never compete in the top half of the SEC recruiting rankings, at least not on a consistent basis. Missouri’s bread-and-butter has always needed to be finding “diamonds in the rough,” and developing mid-level prospects into dependable, high-level players. For the most part, the Tigers have succeeded over the past two decades.
What I’m more interested in is where Missouri is finding its recruits. Gary Pinkel found a lot of his best players in Texas and Missouri, though things seemed to deteriorate in his final years. Barry Odom has followed a similar path, pulling a lot of players out of Texas while steadily rebuilding the program’s rapport with St. Louis.
Two years ago, I asked the question, “Where are Missouri’s recruits coming from?” Now that we’re four cycles into Barry Odom’s tenure at Missouri, it’s time to revisit the question with an important caveat: where is Odom having the most success finding impact players?
I looked at each of Barry Odom’s four classes at Missouri and broke down which states have been the most fruitful for him and his staff. Then, I listed some of the more productive states and the, “impact players,” that have come from each to get a fuller picture of where the program is having the most success.
Barry Odom Recruiting Geography
Texas: DeMarkus Acy, Jalen Knox
Missouri will always have an invested stake in Texas because of its Big XII history and the amount of alumni that have settled there.
Odom’s success in the Longhorn State has been mixed. DeMarkus Acy is a legitimate All-SEC talent and Jalen Knox had a freshman year that hints at a similar future. Past that, it’s hard to truly evaluate the success of the Texas pipeline. Kobie Whiteside, Joshua Bledsoe, Hyrin White and Terry Petry are entering their upperclassmen years and have all been solid-not-great rotation pieces. Kam Scott showed flashes of greatness in 2018, and Chad Bailey was the prize of last year’s class. But neither showed much in the way of consistent production.
We’ll get a much better picture of Texas’ success in the coming year. Odom signed 10 recruits out of the state in 2018, and sophomores in Missouri’s system often get an extended look on the field. The 2017 class will be in their make-or-break junior years, and 2019 recruits like Stacy Brown and Anthony Watkins will get the chance to prove themselves in year one.
Missouri: Cale Garrett, Trystan Colon-Castillo, Daniel Parker
The 2018 Tiger Ten narrative has probably blown the true story of in-state recruiting out of proportion. Yes, Odom’s staff failed to land most of that talented Missouri class, but he’s also had plenty of success in his backyard.
Cale Garrett — Odom’s first great find — is a star and Daniel Parker looks like a star in the making. Trystan Colon-Castillo has been a key component on one of the country’s strongest offensive lines over the past three years. And while Tre Williams time with the Tigers appears to be over, he’s been a useful defensive line piece in his career.
Things only seem to be getting better in Missouri as well. Dominic Gicinto came up in several key situations despite being one of Missouri’s most unheralded recruits in 2018. The Tigers cleaned up in-state in 2019, landing celebrated playmakers like Jalani Williams, Maurice Massey and CJ Boone. Jack Buford acted as the straw that stirred the drink, and 2020 commit Brady Cook looks to be the next in line.
So for all the hand-wringing about the Tiger Ten, Odom’s star seems to be just fine — and possibly on the rise — in the Show Me State.
Georgia: Christian Holmes
For being the state with the third most recruits in the Barry Odom era, Georgia has been a bit of a bust in terms of producing impact talent.
Georgia looks even worse when you consider some of the tantalizing — but ultimately disappointing — players Missouri has lured from the Peach State, namely Darvis Holmes and Dimetrios Mason.
This all could change in the coming years, though. Jatorian Hansford received extensive playing time in his freshman season, and the Peach State produced two of Missouri’s better late-cycle pickups in Luke Griffin and Jamie Pettway.
Illinois: Albert Okwuegbunam, Tucker McCann, Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms
Missouri hasn’t signed a recruit out of Illinois since 2017, but maybe it’s time to dust off the phone and get in touch with someone across the river.
The 2016 Illinois class was the definition of boom or bust. Greg Taylor and Natereace Strong both followed community college tracks to Columbia, but neither stuck around for long. However, the other three turned into major pieces in the revitalization of Missouri football. Wallace-Simms and Okwuegbunam will be playing in the NFL in 2020 and McCann has developed from a deer-in-the-headlights freshman to one of the SEC’s most dependable kickers.
Seeing the haul Love Smith pulled out of Illinois in the 2019 class, it’s clear the talent pool hasn’t dried up. It’ll be tough to pull those recruits out of Smith’s waiting embrace, but another year of winning could turn the tide.
Other: Damarea Crockett (AR), Larry Rountree III (NC), Tyler Badie (TN), Yasir Durant (AZ)
This is probably where the designated, “impact players,” gets a little more subjective... but it’s a little strange how Odom and company have picked out several star running backs from all around the country, right?
There aren’t any hard and fast conclusions to draw from this group, though it is worth noting that several of the one-hitter states have produced some players the staff seems to really like: Messiah Swinson (NY), Trajan Jeffcoat (SC), Nate Anderson (AL), etc. If anything, it’s good to see the staff has recognized the need to cast a wide net in order to find under-recruited talents all around the country.
In the end, it’s still hard to make any overarching conclusions. Only 75 percent of Odom’s classes have seen the field at the college level, and only 25 percent have done so as upperclassmen. This coming season will be the most telling of Odom’s career, as the wide majority of the roster will be made up of his players. What that will say about his recruiting has yet to be determined.
How about you? Which states do you think Barry Odom has been most successful recruiting? Vote, and state your case in the comments.
Which state has Barry Odom been most successful recruiting as head coach at Missouri?
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