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Roster Math: Pre Early Signing Period 2021

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Get off your ath it’s time for math!

NCAA Football: Missouri at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Early Signing Period starts this Wednesday, December 15th, and goes through Friday the 17th. Missouri is expecting their 15 current commits to fax in the National Letters of Intent during that period, confirming their decision to come to Mizzou and be part of the Tiger football team starting with the 2022 season.

It makes sense, then, to take stock of the roster as it is currently constructed; as in, the roster that will take the field against Army in the Armed Forces Bowl on the 22nd. This means I have removed all the transfers and the lone senior sitting out for the game - Akayleb Evans. Assuming no other senior sits out and we have no further transfers between now and the bowl game, here is the roster as it currently stands:

Bowl Season 2021 Missouri Football Roster

Names in italics are scholarships that are not, currently, counting towards the scholarship count; i.e. the COVID-seniors and the incoming recruits that will sign this week. For purposes of this exercise when you see the “Departing Scholarships” number that’s in addition to the COVID-seniors whose scholarships weren’t counting towards this season already. That means that the three actually-graduating-seniors who currently count against the scholarship limit - Blaze Alldredge, Chance May, and Allie Green IV - will for sure no longer be on the team once the clock at the Armed Forces Bowl hits 0:00. They will, obviously, be removed for future roster maths (rosters math?) but are on, and counted, until then.

Let’s break down the numbers per position and I’ll pontificate on the positions that could afford some additions (though might not necessarily need them). As you can guess, the roster numbers are an ever-evolving beast but are as accurate as I can get as of December 12th.

Quarterbacks

Quarterbacks

Departing Scholarships: 0

Current Scholarship Count: 3

Incoming: 1

If you’ve been paying any attention to our little website this season you’ll be painfully aware there will most likely not be four quarterbacks on the team at the conclusion of spring practices. How many leave - and which ones - is the question that no one can answer yet but that’s where the team stands: there’s too much of a youth logjam and quarterbacks like to play so someone is going to leave to find that playing time. It doesn’t seem like the coaching staff is looking to recruit another quarterback - either high school, JUCO, or portal - other than Sam Horn so don’t expect any additions here this week.

Running Backs

Running Backs

Departing Scholarships: 3 (Downing, Badie, Bakare*)

Current Scholarship Count: 6

Incoming: 1

Just the one addition so far in Tavorus Jones though, given the playing time of walk-on Michael Cox and the lack of playing time throughout the season of Elijah Young, B.J. Harris, and Taj Butts, there could be interest (and certainly space) to take another running back.

*I’m not 100% on Bakare leaving but he was carried off the field with a rock on senior night, hasn’t had his picture updated on the team website in over two years, and also hasn’t recorded a stat since 2019 so I’m assuming he’s gone

Wide Receivers

Wide Receivers

Departing Scholarships: 4 (Chism, Wilson, Banister*, Smith*)

Current Scholarship Count: 7

Incoming: 3

This position group has the most intrigue heading into the 2022 season and also will be one of the youngest position rooms on the team. With the best high school receiver in the country joining the roster, as well as two high-upside receivers coming in as well, I don’t see this staff making room for any other additions.

*Both Banister and Smith participated in Senior Day but are unclear on their status to return

Tight Ends

Tight Ends

Departing Scholarships: 0

Current Scholarship Count: 3

Incoming: 1

Thanks to the transfers of Daniel Parker, Jr. and Messiah Swinson, the tight end room has become conspicuously spacious. Lee’s Summit product Max Whisner will be the lone tight end incoming so far; given the way the Drinkwitz offense has used tight ends over the past two years, I don’t particularly see the need to carry more the four tight ends at a time but I suppose they could add another as a security blanket for possible future transfers or surprise injuries.

Offensive Line

Offensive Line

Departing Scholarships: 1 (Cook)

Current Scholarship Count: 13

Incoming: 4

This group has some of the best class balance of his position group on the team: eight (soon to be seven) upperclassmen, five underclassmen, four incoming freshmen. Drinkwitz and Marcus Johnson played a pretty narrow rotation of guys throughout the year so with that in mind - plus the addition of some highly-regarded youngsters - you could talk yourself into some transfers happening with this group. The crazy thing is, even with no further defections, I could see the staff brining in a JUCO or portal player just to add to the experience and provide another option. Remember: it’s very rare - even for blue-chippers - to see true freshmen play on the line and there are seven guys in this group that will be some form of freshman classification heading into the 2022 season.

Defensive Ends

Defensive Ends

Departing Scholarships: 0

Current Scholarship Count: 9

Incoming: 0

THIS is why the Jae’vien Gill commitment made zero sense to me. For a position that typically only has two on the field at a time, Missouri currently has nine - NINE (9!) - scholarship ends and none of them are graduating or declaring for the NFL (so far). In fact, that could still be the case at the conclusion of next year so this is a position that needs zero focus in recruiting until some transfers (or early NFL entrants) happen. It sounds like Boonville pass rusher D.J. Wesolak - he of the dropped criminal charges and recruiting service demotion from 4-star to 3-star - will likely end up on the roster but that’s going to be a packed position group for the foreseeable future, especially with talented freshman ends Ky Montgomery and Travion Ford fully recovered from their injuries.

Defensive Tackles

Defensive Tackles

Departing Scholarships: 1 (Key*)

Current Scholarship Count: 4

Incoming: 2

My thoughts on this position are torn: on the one hand, college defenses tend to only rotate through four defensive tackles at a maximum and - even with the departure of Whiteside, Key, and Byers - I’d feel confident with Al Davis and Steve Wilks trotting out Wingo, Robinson, George, and Gracial next year. On the other hand, that’s hoping that none of them get injured and that Jalen Marshall can contribute in a pinch. I guess I’m leaning towards this staff taking a portal player to fill out the depth a little more...but I would be very cool if just the dudes listed on this chart were the entire rotation.

*Since Ben Key has played six snaps in his entire Missouri career I’m assuming he got his diploma and is moving on from the team

Linebackers

Linebackers

Departing Scholarships: 2 (Alldredge, May)

Current Scholarship Count: 8

Incoming: 1

Chad Bailey experiencing a renaissance halfway through the year really changed the calculus with this position group. Without his emergence we’re probably talking about the staff taking in two portal players and adding another high school to join Xavier Simmons. While I’m not completely ruling that out, Missouri is returning Bailey, an experienced Devin Nicholson, fall-camp’s most hyped player in Dameon Wilson, plus transfer Chuck Hicks and two more underclassmen. For a position group that, currently, only plays two dudes at a time and rotates about four...they should have their guys somewhere in the current roster, right? My guess is that they do bring in another portal player like Hicks just to have experience since the freshmen backers are total unknown quantities at this point.

Cornerbacks

Cornerbacks

Departing Scholarships: 1 (Green) [Akayleb Evans is already off the roster]

Current Scholarship Count: 7

Incoming: 1

Much like the wide receivers for the offense, the cornerbacks are the youngest position group of the defense with six underclassmen slated to return for 2022 (plus incoming freshman Marcus Scott II). I will repeat what I’ve said plenty of times here (and originally established by the godfather Bill Connelly): experience in football matters most in the passing game, i.e. quarterback and receiver on offense and cornerback/safety on defense. In Missouri’s case, both the offensive and defensive passing units are going to be hella young so it will be an interesting year if nothing changes. So, yes, I expect some more additions here - either JUCO or portal - to add at least one experienced piece to a super young group of high-upside athletes.

Safeties

Safeties

Departing Scholarships: 1 (Robinson*)

Current Scholarship Count: 7

Incoming: 1

Like the offensive line on offense, this position group is nearly perfectly class balanced. I can’t imagine they take another player outside of blue-chipper Isaac Thompson, especially considering they keep Stacy Brown as the hybrid safety/nickelback and still have the Tyler safeties waiting in the wings.

*Robinson participated in senior day, unclear if he’s coming back

Specialists

Foot People

Departing Scholarships: 0

Current Scholarship Count: 4

Incoming: 0

How many college football teams carry four specialists on scholarship? I can’t imagine there are a ton out there but Missouri is certainly one! Koetting (kickoffs), Hoffman (long snapper), Hawthorne (long snapper), and Mevis (Lou Groza snub) helped contribute to one of the best special teams units in the country and they all come back. We saw Koetting handle punting duties against Arkansas; whether that was a try out or a “you have the job in the future so get your reps in now” move is unclear, but unless they bring in another punter via portal, I doubt they dole out another scholarship to this group.

It’s Math’n Time!

Ok, so let’s get to 85, shall we?

Counting COVID-seniors this team currently has 80 scholarship players.

Once the COVID-seniors and the three seniors who count against the scholarship total are off the team Missouri will have 68 scholarship players.

If the players I put in asterisks do end up leaving Missouri will have 63 scholarship players. For simplicity’s sake, let’s operate with that number.

There are 15 high schoolers currently committed to the Tigers who expect to sign this week which would bring the team to 78.

Missouri does anticipate bringing in 25 scholarship players in this class but can bring in up to seven additional scholarships via transfer portal per each player lost to the transfer portal.

Missouri has (currently) lost six players to the transfer portal (Maclin, Pettway, DPJ, Swinson, Shearin, Burdine) which means that they can sign up to 31 scholarship players in this class with a maximum of 32 if at least one more player transfers away.

So...if every guy currently committed signs this week that’s 78 scholarships; if they sign 10 more high schoolers or JUCOs that puts them at 88. That means that three current Missouri players will have to leave the team to make it to 85. Considering one - maybe two - quarterbacks leave at the conclusion of spring practice, it’s not hard to get to that number.

Conclusion

The transfers to and from Missouri aren’t done yet! And nether is Drinkwitz’s ‘crootin’ efforts! Keep your eye on this here website for up to date roster moves as we’ll have plenty of roster management pieces coming up in the early offseason.