Recruiting was one of the biggest priorities for Eliah Drinkwitz upon arriving at Mizzou. It is safe to say that, although he is not where he would like to be, he has made considerable progress in improving the caliber of talent his program imports.
The theme of this class is the “Year of the Tiger,” and with 14 highly-touted prospects from all over the country now signed on, it may very well be.
One of Drinkwitz’ biggest goals was to lock down the state of Missouri in terms of recruiting. He signed six prospects from the state, with three more coming from St. Louis or Kansas City suburbs.
“I think we accomplished our biggest goal of locking down the state of Missouri,” Drinkwitz said in his press conference today.
While this class is fairly balanced, the name everyone is talking about is Luther Burden III. The consensus number one wide receiver in his class, Burden signed with the Tigers from East St. Louis High School, turning away many of college football’s blue bloods.
“It was almost more just a sense of relief (to sign him),” Drinkwitz explained. “We didn’t know exactly which way it would go cause we didn’t have the last visit.”
Burden is joined by two other promising wide receivers in Mekhi Miller out of Overland Park, Ks., and Ja’Marion Wayne out of Ballwin, Mo. Drinkwitz explained that signing Sam Horn, a 4-star quarterback recruit out of Georgia, played a role in all three of their signatures.
“Horn being committed since February was something that made Luther, Mekhi, and Ja’Marion more comfortable to sign,” Drinkwitz said. “It’s a pretty special group on this offense.”
On top of that, Luther Burden and Mekhi Miller plan on enrolling early for spring practice at Mizzou.
“That will be great for them just to understand the offense and terminology,” Drinkwitz stated.
Sam Horn will join the Tigers in the fall, as he is also a stand out baseball player and has a spring season to wrap up.
“Sam will chase three dreams here,” Drinkwitz explained. “Life with football, life with baseball, and life outside of athletics. He will be full-time football in season then we will work around things in the spring.”
In terms of the class overall, Drinkwitz is satisfied but not complacent.
“We felt like this was gonna be a small class just because we don’t know who is leaving with COVID-seniors,” Drinkwitz said. “We had some guys hit the transfer portal and more to come, so we will likely look into the portal soon.”
Echoing many of his college coaching colleagues, Drinkwitz provided his general thoughts on the state of college football, early signing day, and the transfer portal.
“I’ve been coaching college football for 10 years. There’s been more changes in college football in the past two years than the previous eight, and it’s been a lot of moving the line with unintended consequences,” Drinkwitz explained. “This isn’t a knock on the portal, but I am unsure of what the future of college football looks like. Currently, unlike pro leagues, every single player is a free agent every year, and I don’t know if that is sustainable for a team sport.”
Still, the show must go on.
“You either adapt or die,” Drinkwitz stated. “You have to be willing to adjust to change or risk falling way behind.”
On a day like today, coaches also generally take time to reflect on the nuances and struggles of recruiting. Drinkwitz gave his personal take on how difficult it can be.
“You always feel like you are behind, always could be talking to someone. You better be recruiting 2-3 times a day every day to get these results,” Drinkwitz said. “They pay me to be paranoid. You’re always worried about what other people have been saying or recruiting.”
Luckily, Drinkwitz had help. One of the earlier commits of the 2022 class, 3-star tight end Max Whisner out of Lee’s Summit, Mo. quickly became an arm of the recruiting staff. Max did a lot of work, but Drinkwitz says it was his mother Kelly who did some heavy lifting too.
“I think Max Whisner’s mom is the best recruiter on our staff,” Drinkwitz said. “We’ve known him since January, and he has taken on that badge of rallying everyone together. And then there’s Kelly, his mom, always talking to other recruits’ parents about tailgating, future plans, and convincing kids to commit to Mizzou.”
Drinkwitz is making his rounds today, as he began with a reception in Columbia before he ventures to Arrowhead Stadium for another event. He will cap off the night in St. Louis at The Midwestern. Drinkwitz believes it is important for him to connect with all areas of the state
“We didn’t sell out a game this year at Faurot Field, and I take that as a challenge for us and want to spread the brand,” Drinkwitz said. “For us to get to a championship level, we have to have a championship fanbase.”