Recruiting is the lifeblood of a college football program. You’ve heard that before, and you’ll hear it again. But you hear it as often as you do for a reason. It’s true. And Mizzou’s new coach knows it.
He also knows you can’t just go out and offer the top 250 kids in the country based on Rivals’ big board and expect to have any success. That might work at a place like Georgia or Alabama. It has no chance of succeeding at a program like Missouri.
There must be a plan in place. A staff needs to know what areas it can attack in recruiting with sustainable success. Gary Pinkel primarily focused on Missouri and Texas until the Tigers moved to the SEC and he swapped out Texas for the southeast. It... didn’t exactly work, and Odom eventually got the Tigers back to focusing on the in-state talent and Texas.
Eli Drinkwitz has his plan in place, and his staff is ready to attack it.
“It all starts, first, with the state of Missouri,” Drinkwitz said in an interview with Brendan Wiese and TJ Moe on The Big 550 KTRS. “Since the year 2000, there have been 41 players drafted from Mizzou football. 26 of them came from our state. We have to recruit our state, and we have to be great. That doesn’t mean every player in the state can play at Mizzou and we can win the SEC East. We have to understand that they have to be good enough to help us win the SEC East. But once we identify that player, we have to go get them.”
“The number one thing for recruiting is having a unique on-campus experience. We’ve got to get those young men on campus. And then, after that, you have to be strategic about where you can get them. Columbia has three direct flights: Denver, Dallas and Chicago. We have to make sure Denver, Dallas and Chicago are a footprint for us in recruiting. And then, after that, we have to go where the talent and our connections are. There will be some Houston... Atlanta... Florida... North Carolina... But for the most part, when you talk about Mizzou football and our recruiting footprint, you’ll be talking about Denver, Dallas, Chicago, the state of Missouri and a 400-mile radius.”
It’s no surprise Drinkwitz is planning to make in-state talent a priority. He’s made as much abundantly clear since his introductory press conference. Dallas is a given for Mizzou, given the Tigers’ established footprint in the area and the abundance of talent in the area.
The more interesting part of Drinkwitz’s recruiting plan is the inclusion of Denver and Chicago.
Speaking from personal experience, there were as many students (maybe more?) from Chicago in my time at Mizzou as there were from Kansas City. Students from Denver weren’t as prevalent as Chicago or Dallas, but they were far from a rarity.
That hasn’t necessarily been the case for the football team.
Rivals has been tracking football recruiting since 2002. In that time, they have not recorded a single player from the state of Colorado that committed to Mizzou. Tracking college football scholarship offers is tricky, but the Rivals database only shows Missouri offering seven players from the state of Colorado between 2002-2019.
Drinkwitz and the Tigers have already offered nine players from Colorado in the 2020 & 2021 class.
It’s a similar story for Chicago. No true Chicago area recruit has committed to Missouri in the Rivals era. The two closest Mizzou commits to Chicago from the state of Illinois are Albert Okwuegbunam (Springfield) and Josh Augusta (Peoria).
Drinkwitz has officially revealed his recruiting plan. It’s no surprise to anyone that he’ll attack the state of Missouri and its surrounding areas to go along with Dallas. But I’m fascinated to see if Drinkwitz can do what previous Tiger coaches have not been able to in making Mizzou a destination for football recruits from Chicago and Denver the way the University has made Columbia a destination for prospective students from those same areas.