You probably know the story by now. Eli Drinkwitz did what he’s been doing for the better part of 13 months; he added another highly rated recruit to the surprise of, well, everyone.
Of course I’m referencing the addition of 4-star cornerback JaDarrius Perkins. He’s ESPN’s third rated Junior College player in the 2021 class, and ESPN’s second highest rated Junior College cornerback. He certainly fits the profile the Tigers have been looking for, stading 6-foot-1 with long arms and a reported 4.42 40-yard dash.
A tall, long and fast corner? Yeah, that’ll play in the SEC.
Perkins joins 3-star Zxequan Reeves (6-foot-3, 180 pounds), 4-star Daylan Carnell (6-foot-1, 185 pounds), 3-star Darius Jackson (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) and 3-star Davion Sistrunk (6-foot-2, 165 pounds) as the corners in the Tigers’ 2021 recruiting class.
Reeves, Carnell and Perkins are already on campus as early enrollees. That’s a massive influx of talent at a position that needed it in a bad way.
That’s not to speak ill of the players the Tigers had last year. Ennis Rakestraw and Jarvis Ware return as the Tigers’ starting cornerbacks, and both played well last season. Jaylon Carlies and Ishmael Burdine had some nice moments, too. But four reliable cornerbacks is not enough to get through a season. We saw that a year ago, and it’s going to be true again in 2021 and beyond.
Thankfully, help is on the way. Not just at cornerback, but for the defense as a whole.
Mizzou boasts the 21st ranked recruiting class in the country, according to Rivals. Fifteen of the Tigers’ 22 commits play on the defensive side of the ball. Thirteen of those 15 defensive players happen to play defensive line or defensive back.
That’s not by mistake.
The Tigers’ numbers at corner and defensive end, specifically, got all out of whack. Drinkwitz recognized it, and he went to work. He and his staff added talent to the positions that need it most.
The talent pipeline is now flowing. The defensive coaching staff is in place. Now it’s about developing the talent as it arrives on campus. Having 12 of the 22 signees on campus as early enrollees is a heck of a way to get a head start on that process.
What Drinkwitz and this team accomplished last season was nothing short of remarkable. What he and the coaching staff accomplished on the recruiting trail since arriving on campus is somehow even more important.
We all saw the gap between Mizzou and the true contenders in the SEC East last year. Recruiting at this level and pulling off surprise late additions such as a top five JuCo cornerback in the country is a heck of a way to start closing that gap.