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Five players to watch in Mizzou’s 2021 recruiting class

The early signing period is in the books. These are five players to watch when they arrive on campus.

NCAA Football: Missouri at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Signing day is like Christmas for college football fans. The wait is finally over. We’ve heard about some of these players for years, and now they’re officially going to be part of the Mizzou football program.

We’ve certainly heard plenty about the first full recruiting class Eli Drinkwitz has been able to put together. It’s not every day you see a top 25 class at Missouri. But we’ve focused a little less on the individual players.

Let’s take a look into five of the players I think you should keep an eye on as they make their way to Columbia.

The crown jewel of Mizzou’s 2020 class: 4-Star CB Daylan Carnell

Carnell is Missouri’s first commit from Indianapolis since Pompey Coleman back in 2017. He’s 6-foot-1 with long arms and the potential to play all over the field. His film shows snaps both in the slot and out wide, playing press man and dropping into zone. He’s a willing tackler and has a knack of making plays on the ball.

The Tigers have a number of defensive backs in this class who project to be solid players at the next level, but Carnell seems like the one most likely to come in and play right away.

A player who could come in right away and contribute: 3-Star TE Ryan Hoerstkamp

Oh, boy. This is my guy. If you’re into big tight ends who have some serious ability to go up and get it, you’re going to love Hoerstkamp. I had no idea what to expect when I turned on the film. It’s hard not to see what colleges across America saw in him, though.

Hoerstkamp committed early to the Tigers, jumping on board in late April. The offers didn’t stop, though. He got an offer from Alabama not too long after committing to Mizzou. There was a time when Missouri fans (justifiably) wondered if he could be on ‘flip watch.’ It never happened. Hoerstkamp stayed true to his pledge, and I think Tigers fans are going to be happy he did.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hoerstkamp come in and play right away. He already has good size, but he could add even more strength to his frame. If he does, watch out.

A potential diamond in the rough: 3-Star CB Davion Sistrunk

I can’t wait to see what Missouri’s defensive staff can do with Sistrunk. He’s incredibly raw, but he has all the traits of a future NFL cornerback. No, seriously. It’s all there. He’s 6-foot-3 with legitimate track speed and ball skills. He’s also not afraid to stick his nose in the action and make some plays in the running game.

But... there’s still plenty of work to be done on technique. That’s to be expected. Sistrunk was primarily a basketball player until he took up football in 2019. He was such an impressive player on the field that he immediately started drawing attention as a legitimate power five recruit.

It’s so hard to know whether or not a project will work out at the next level. Some players with this kind of background turn into Charles Harris. Others end up never seeing the field. But I love taking a chance on the traits.

Keep an eye on: 3-Star RB Taj Butts

Is 36 touchdowns in 27 games good? That’s what Butts did in his high school career at DeSmet. His high school coach compared his running style to former Alabama running back Josh Jacobs. I can see that. He has great size at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, he seems to run away from everyone on the field at least a couple times in each game and he has really impressive contact balance; he almost never goes down on first contact.

It will be interesting to see where Butts fits into the pecking order next year. Tyler Badie will almost certainly be more involved than he has been this year. Elijah Young has emerged as the next man up, and could fit in nicely into the Larry Rountree feature back role. Can Butts work his way up to third on the depth chart? Crazier things have happened.

The potential story you might fall in love with: 2-Star DT Realus George

Alright, you’re probably wondering why I’m including the lowest rated player in Missouri’s 2021 recruiting class in this post. Fair question! It’s all about his story. And it’s a good one.

George was the #1 rated high school fullback in the country back in 2018. He committed to Miami and spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Hurricanes. Things didn’t exactly go as he planned. He committed to play for Mark Richt, but Richt retired after the 2018 season. The offense changed, the fullback became less of a featured role and a walk-on passed George on the depth chart.

George decided it was time for a change. He transferred to Independence Community College for the 2020 season where he also changed positions from fullback to defensive tackle. He reportedly weighed in at 245 pounds when he arrived at Miami and he’s up to 295 pounds today.

Can he play? It’s a good question. I’m not sure how anyone could know. The 2020 JUCO season was thrown completely out of whack, so his film is extremely limited. His high school defensive line film is incredible. But that was three years and 50 pounds ago. Can he recapture some of that form in his new body at a new school? We’ll see.

But think about the potential narrative here: A former top recruit at his position goes to three schools in four years and ultimately winds up as an SEC defensive tackle. I’m a sucker for good stories, and that would be one heck of a story.