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Examining The East St. Louis Pipeline

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Taking a deep dive into what could be the most important stop along Coach Drinkwitz’s recruiting trail.

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: FEB 04 National Signing Day - Terry Beckner Jr
Terry Beckner Jr, a 2015 graduate of East St. Louis High School.
Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Previously, I highlighted the best regions in Missouri for talent, and also the best high schools in the state at producing major division one talent. In that edition, I purposely excluded teams in the metro east area. That’s because there is one school, who stands out above the rest. The East St. Louis Flyers.

The East St. Louis Pipeline is one that is constantly flowing with prospects. Not just the regular, run of the mill, three star prospects (which they have a tremendous amount of), but your elite, highly sought after ones too. The guys who are often receiving offers from the who’s who of college football programs from around the country. You know, schools like Alabama, LSU, and Ohio State who don’t just come a knocking for no reason.

After crunching the numbers, and doing the research, here’s the East St. Louis Flyers, by the numbers.

  • From 2010 to 2019 the Flyers have produced 14 (!!) Power Five products.
  • Their 14 P5 Prospects are almost double the size of the largest Missouri pipeline.
  • Of the 14 that went on to P5 schools, 6 were rated as four stars or higher.
  • East St Louis has the most amount of SEC talent within a 250 mile radius of Columbia.
Mississippi v Missouri
Tre’Vour Simms soaking in a Touchdown on Homecoming
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

All of this talent has gone to good use for the Flyers. I would also say that the two state championships in the past decade proves that all of that talent can translate to wins. They’re producing more than just talented football players. This program is producing mature, responsible young men, who have found football as an escape from the sometimes harsh realities off the field.

I had to get a Flyers perspective, so who other than Missouri’s own, and current Jacksonville Jaguar Tre’Vour Simms-Wallace? I got on a zoom call with him to try and figure just what is in the sauce down at his former high school.

For one, it comes down to coaching. I think we have top of the line coaching across the board. They really care about the kids, and their development and putting in the necessary minutes to become a great high school athlete, and in turn, a great college athlete.

Obviously coaching was a big emphasis during my sit down with Tre’Vour. He explained how invested his high school coaches were in preparing him to be a standout college football player, and how the tough love that his old coach, Darren Sunkett, prepared him for the expectations of being not only a collegiate athlete, but a college student as well.

It’s more than only the coaching that makes the Flyers great, but the intense practices and competition do too. I asked Tre’Vour about the competitive nature at practices:

When the talent level is that high, and you are all playing for the pure love of the game, the practices would be that much more intense. Everyone’s enjoying the grind, and it really comes down to bragging rights. Ya know, you go to school and tell everybody “Oh, I did this or that to you” and it just adds to it all.

Tre’Vour is currently a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and is doing his best to stay in shape despite the constraints that COVID-19 brings. He attributes his discipline, discipline that began as an East St. Louis Flyer, as the main key to doing that.

Business is Picking Up....

These numbers from the last decade are impressive. The good news for the Tigers is that doing business in East St. Louis is proving to be even more fruitful in the next decade. In 2020, 3 of the 10 top players in the state of Illinois were Flyers, including one time Mizzou commit Kevon Billingsley.

The 2021 Missouri recruiting class has the makings to be an all time class in its own right. I don’t know how appealing this class looks to Mizzou fans if not for the recruiting efforts of 4-Star QB commit Tyler Macon. That’s not even mentioning fellow four star recievers in Dominic Lovett and UCLA Commit Keontez Lewis.

Another year, and another group of elite prospects.

Mizzou Outlook?

The Tigers have had their hits (Tre’Vour Simms-Wallace and Terry Beckner Jr.), and their misses (Nate Strong and Greg Taylor) in East St. Louis, and that’s okay. They still need to be there often, and be there heavy with reinforcements.

There is no Power Five school closer to ESL than Missouri, and the second closest school to them has exactly one season over six wins since 2010. The talent is too close, and also just too talented for it not to be a main priority. Drink can continue to make genuine connections and build relationships wit their staff and players.

The 2021 class that is headlined by Macon could be the one to get the ball rolling and also get the pipeline pumping a bit more towards Columbia in the future.