Barry Odom is busting down the gates of St. Louis
Earlier this week, Cuonzo Martin secured the services of a very tall Frenchman with almost no notice. We knew Axel Okongo was on the Tigers’ radar, but no one seems to have known how serious things were. With Okongo’s commitment, Martin defended his title as Mizzou’s Sneakiest Recruiter.
Barry Odom on the other hand... Barry Odom does not work in subtlety. If Cuonzo Martin is a recruiting assassin working in the shadows, Odom is a recruiting juggernaut, violently bounding into a territory and pummeling away until it is his. And, after several years of breaking down walls, it seems like St. Louis is finally giving in.
Billingsley’s commitment comes on the heels of Missouri’s biggest commitment of the 2020 class, when four-star linebacker Antonio Doyle committed to the Tigers on Saturday night. While Billingsley is technically Missouri’s third out-of-state commitment in this class, he’s also the sixth commitment from the St. Louis metro area — again, an unbelievable turnaround for Barry Odom’s recruiting momentum.
In 2017 and 2018, Missouri didn’t sign any recruits from the St. Louis area.
The Gateway to the West has long been either a bane or a boon to Missouri’s success. While players like Jeremy Maclin, Blaine Gabbert and Terry Beckner Jr. have been foundational program pieces, there are enough Montee Balls, Ezekial Elliotts and Adrian Clayborns to make Tiger fans wonder what could’ve been if they’d just stayed home. St. Louis has turned itself into a hotbed of elite football talent, and Missouri — more so than any program in the area — is in a position to capitalize on it.
When Gary Pinkel stepped down after 2015, it was rumored that connections in St. Louis were tenuous at best. Odom stepped in and immediately prioritized the area and, while things didn’t work out overnight, Odom has reaped plenty of rewards over the course of the last few seasons, drawing blue-chip recruits on a regular basis. Billingsley joins recent recruit Antonio Doyle as one of the state’s higher-rated players to commit to the Tigers.
Earlier in his high school career Billingsley briefly attended Parkway North but played at Lutheran North his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. He recently transferred across the river to East St. Louis, where he’ll play as a senior this fall. Before he made the move, 247Sports.com rated Billingsley the No. 8 player in Missouri for the 2020 class and No. 56 defensive tackle. Rivals.com rates Billingsley the No. 7 player in Missouri and No. 31 strongside defensive end. He also played offensive tackle at Lutheran North.
This may not be the last of Odom’s St. Louis (and Missouri) based success. Alex Schiffer at the Kansas City Star seems to think there could still be more native Missourians waiting in the wings in the coming months.
I don’t think Brick Haley has to drive far to get his 2020 class intact. I like MU’s chances with Columbia’s Jalen Logan-Redding and St. Louis’ Joe Moore, whose dad played for the Tigers. Missouri is recruiting Lutheran North athlete Itayvion Brown, whom the Tigers like as a tight end. Brown is 6 feet, 5 inches and is on an official visit to Kansas this weekend. I think MU has a great shot at him, too.
Sounds like Barry Odom’s run through the Lou isn’t quite finished.
- One of the most fascinating questions about this era of college basketball is what to expect from any given freshman in any given program. Every year we’re inundated with a new crop of young stars from the expected juggernauts (Zion Williamson) to the breakout lottery picks (Trae Young). We obviously don’t see as many of those guys pass through Missouri, but it’s still a good question to ask before every season.
Last year I tried to do something like that for Torrence Watson, but I wish I had just waited a year. Our very own Matt Harris blessed us with an excellent piece breaking down expectations we should be setting for freshman every year. It really is magnificent. Peruse over it and educate yourself.
- Dave Matter’s chats are always worth checking out, so here’s the transcript of Thursday’s for those who missed it.
- If you didn’t catch it late Thursday night, Alex Schiffer’s weekly recruiting column (linked above) also contains with nuggets on 2021 basketball recruits, Caleb Love and Robin Pingeton’s next class.