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Scholarship Management: The 2020 Roster and the Future

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We’re talking MATH

West Virginia v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

As of February 3rd, 2020 the Missouri Fightin’ Football Tigers have themselves a roster! Now would be as good a time as any to review exactly where they are and glean some possible recruiting strategies going forward. Because I’m a freak and keep track of all sorts of useless, random information about this team, I’ll let you all in on my spreadsheets so you can see the construction of this team to the extent that I see it. Behold!

Roster Demographics

All pretty self-explanatory as you view this chart. The only thing that needs explanation is that the number that you see next to the class and state are the scholarship players and the numbers within parentheses are the number of players when you add the walk-ons. There are a lot of Texans on this team which I view as an absolute plus; Pinkel’s best teams were fueled by overlooked Texans supplementing the homegrown talent and Missouri’s presence in the Lone Star State is noticeable and should be capitalized on. The most surprising aspect is that Michigan is represented by five gentlemen on this roster. That’s mostly from the influence of former coach A.J. Ofodile so I’d assume the spigot to the burgeoning Great Lakes pipeline will be left at a drip going forward. The 2020 Louisiana class wasn’t the best (even LSU wasn’t recruiting the state super hard) but that’s a pipeline that should be grown as well; there are plenty of mega athletic swamp monsters that can fill out both offensive and defensive lines and it’s close enough to Mizzou that it’s not a reach to try and get kids to commit.

With the demographics taken care of let’s take a peek at the scholarship chart, pre-spring practice.

2020 Scholarship Roster

That’s 79 scholarship athletes plus two walk-ons who have earned a scholarship (Dawson Downing and Barrett Bannister). Missouri will have to operate on 81 scholarships through this year and then can get back to 85 starting in 2021. As of this moment, Missouri is slated to lose 19 senior to graduation at the conclusion of the 2020 football season plus any third-year players who decide to jump early for the NFL. The NCAA stipulates that a single team can only sign 25 scholarship players per recruiting class and I fully expect the Drinkwitz crew to recruit a full 25 players for the 2021 class. Let’s break down the scholarship roster by position to see where the Tigers currently stand and where they might be looking to add in the 2021 class.

2020 Quarterbacks

Current Quarterbacks: 4

Possible 2021 Quarterback Recruits: 1 or 2

Teams should always sign a quarterback in every class so one can absolutely guarantee that there will be one signed in the 2021 class. There are currently four on the roster, with Taylor Powell and Shawn Robinson having two years left, Connor Bazelak four years, and Brady Cook five years to play four. Depending on the outcome of the quarterback battle in the spring, we might see a transfer happen. Shawn Robinson wasn’t the most impressive at TCU (under Mizzou running backs coach Curtis Luper who was Co-OC at the time) but if he doesn’t get the job out of spring, it’s hard to see him transferring to a third school. But if a transfer does occur you can expect the staff to look to sign a second quarterback in this class.

2020 Running Backs

Current Running Backs: 6

Possible 2021 Running Back Recruits: 1 or 2

Missouri will for sure lose two running backs at the end of the year, possibly three if Tyler Badie gets positive feedback from the NFL. Simi Bakare hasn’t done much so far but Anthony Watkins and Elijah Young have had rave reviews and should be at Mizzou for at least the next two to three years. If Badie jumps early the staff probably grabs two more running backs, but my projection would be one more added for this class.

2020 Wide Receivers

Current Wide Receivers: 13

Possible 2021 Wide Receiver Recruits: 2

The receiving corps skews incredibly young, with 7 receivers having three or more years of eligibility left. After 2020, Missouri will still have 11 receivers on the roster but this year’s junior class of receivers has been...less than impressive after this past year. Coach Drinkwitz flooded the receiving corps with youth in the 2020 class to improve the quality of the receivers via quantity so I would expect at least two more being added for 2021.

2020 Tight Ends

Current Tight Ends: 5

Possible 2021 Tight End Recruits: 1

Five tight ends in 2020, five (so far) in 2021 thanks to the commitment of Gavin McKay. DPJ is a possible NFL early enrollee, but 4-5 tight ends is a good number to have on the roster, so don’t expect any more additions.

2020 Offensive Line

Current Offensive Linemen: 14

Possible 2021 Offensive Linemen Recruits: 2

Much like the receivers, Missouri’s offensive line skews super young with 10 of the 14 having at least three years of eligibility left. As far as roster management goes, the Tigers staff should take two linemen in this class; linemen take longer to develop and it’s good to have at least two per graduating class so that each position has at least two at each spot and 12 overall in case of emergency.

2020 Defensive Ends

Current Defensive Ends: 7

Possible 2021 Defensive End Recruits: 4

I’m still holding out hope that Tre Williams turns into an unholy wrecking ball this year, but overall, the Missouri defensive ends of recent lore have totally lost the title of “D-line Zou” by being complete non-factors game to game. Hansford also has a chance to make a big jump, but the other three are still super young. I’d assume the staff brings in two JUCO ends and two freshmen to balance the class and hope that some actual pass rushing talent emerges after three years of non-existence.

2020 Defensive Tackles

Current Defensive Tackles: 8

Possible 2021 Defensive Tackle Recruits: 4

FIVE gentlemen will be taking the field for their last year as Missouri Tiger this year at this position, so it’s definitely a position of need. Much like the ends, we can expect an influx of JUCO and high school recruits to fill in for 2021. Key and Robinson will need lots of experience this year since Edwards will most likely get four games in a redshirt season to bulk up.

2020 Linebackers

Current Linebackers: 10

Possible 2021 Linebacker Recruits: 1

The linebacker classes are actually pretty balanced and with the 4-2-5 scheme the Tigers have been running, they don’t really need to be carrying 10 linebackers for two spots. I’d assume some of these guys make a switch to safety (Aidan Harrison and Jamie Pettway come to mind) and with Brooks and Miller graduating, that can free up one spot for a 2021 linebacker.

2020 Cornerbacks

Current Cornerbacks: 6

Possible 2021 Cornerback Recruits: 2

Experience in the secondary is incredibly important, and Missouri will be very young for the next two years. Luckily, at least in theory, they’ll only lose two contributors in two years so cohesion should be strong as Missouri enters 2022. For now, expect the staff to look to add two more corners just to stock up on depth.

2020 Safeties

Current Safeties: 7

Possible 2021 Safety Recruits: 2

Just like the corners, the safeties are also super young, which doesn’t bode well for success in the secondary. Gillespie and Bledsoe have been excellent, but will be gone for 2021 so expect another two to be recruited for this year’s crop. I have pretty high expectations for the youth in this group, but since there’s three safety positions now they’ll need to keep the depth stocked more than in years past.

2020 Special Teamers

Current Special Teamers: 7

Possible 2021 Special Team Recruits: 0

Kickers and punters are tough to project, so I tend to be a little shy on using a scholarship on the foot people. Hopefully, Harrison Mevis has more consistency than Tucker McCann and that a walk-on is able to perform the punter responsibilities reliably. If there’s a highly rated punter/some Australian dude who wants to attend Mizzou, I’m cool with using a scholarship, otherwise I’d expect no other kicker types to be taken.