Let’s get this out of the way first: college football scholarship/roster management is all forked up for the 2021 season.
Seniors who exhausted their eligibility can come back to play. No one redshirted because no one advanced in eligibility, meaning any player who was a freshman on a 2020 roster is once again a freshman for a 2021 roster.
And every team is signing 20-25 guys for 2021, meaning the graduating class of 2025 will be a gigantic, 30-ish man clog for the next three years.
But that’s ok! I’m just saying all that to say that I’m not totally sure how accurate I am in this assessment, I’m simply taking as many notes as I can from social media and constructing the scholarship roster the best I can. Forgive my mistakes; we’ll get it cleared up in the spring.
Regardless, I think that this is fairly accurate:
- Dawson Downing, Keke Chism, “Jersey” Mike Maietti, Akial Byers, Markell Utsey, Jamal Brooks, Mason Pack, and Grant McKinniss are graduated seniors who will be coming back for the 2021 season.
- Micah Wilson, Chris Turner, and Kobie Whiteside are graduated seniors who are probably coming back for the ‘21 season.
- Along with Pack, walk-ons D’ionte “Boo” Smith, Sean Koetting, and Cannon York are for sure on scholarship for 2021. Chance Luper, son of running backs coach Curtis Luper, is probably on scholarship starting in the ‘21 season.
- Blaze Alldredge, a Rice graduate transfer, is a graduated senior that would not have counted towards Rice’s scholarship allotment but, because he is transferring, will count against Missouri’s scholarship total.
- Thalen Robinson and Chris Daniels - both of whom opted out of the 2020 season - are not coming back. Chris Shearin - another 2020 opt out - will probably be coming back.
- JUCO transfer Sci Martin, Jr. is not enrolled in the school and won’t be on the team for undisclosed reasons. Nick Bolton and Larry Borom are also not enrolled in the school and won’t be on the team for NFL reasons.
IF I am accurate in this, here’s the roster shakedown before the last signing day of the 2021 football recruiting class:
Bazelak is still a redshirt freshman as we head into 2021. Brady Cook is still a freshman...as is newly signed 4-star gem Tyler Macon. The quarterback room will be super young going forward, but the staff won’t be taking any QBs on Wednesday, guaranteed.
Dawson Downing is on scholarship but won’t count towards 2021’s scholarship total. Meanwhile, B.J. Harris is expected to sign on Wednesday to make it official. That gives Missouri five scholarship backs, two fourth-year guys and three freshmen. I’m not sure what they’ll do if Harris doesn’t sign, but all signs point to him being added. Any other running back additions will come from the 2022 recruiting class.
Ten scholarship receivers — twelve total — half of whom are some version of freshman. The Missouri passing game was far from dynamic in ‘20 and will probably have some hiccups in ‘21 as well, since six new faces are jockeying for playing time. Chism/Dove/Knox will hold down the fort. I don’t anticipate any additions to this group on Wednesday; the future is bright but wow... it is young.
Nothing needed here! Six tight ends, almost perfectly balanced with two fourth-year guys, two third-years, and two freshmen. Don’t expect any further additions for ‘21.
Another instance of near-perfectly balanced classes, Missouri will field 13 scholarship offensive linemen and 14 total. Jersey Mike (702), Case Cook (702), Zeke Powell (533), and Xavier Delgado (397) lead the offensive line in snaps; after Delgado the next closest was Luke Griffin with 182. We will assume Hyrin White gets slotted at a starting spot so they have a starting five but they’ll also need some rotational pieces to fill in and the experience isn’t quite there. E.J. Ndoma-Ogar figures to fit in somewhere, and Heismeyer and Walters will hopefully contribute after a year in the “gun club” gaining muscle, but this is a spot where Missouri could take another guy on Wednesday. Either a transfer or JUCO would be helpful just to add immediate depth would be helpful. TCU offensive lineman Austin Meyers was recently followed on Twitter by Coach Drinkwitz so that might be an option.
This group has the most returning seniors and the same amount of freshmen as the receivers. With Shemar Pearl no longer an option for the Tigers you could see a scenario where Drinkwitz uses a scholarship to add another pass rusher for the ‘21 class.
What does Coach Wilks’ defensive philosophy do with the linebackers? Under Coach Walters, he scrapped a strong side linebacker in favor of a third safety. Does Wilks just change that third safety in name to linebacker? Nine scholarship/ten total linebackers gives you plenty of options, but as we saw towards the end of the ‘20 season with a hobbled Nick Bolton, the options weren’t great behind him. Alldredge will probably take a starting spot and Devin Nicholson returns; I could see them pursuing another linebacker if the Wilks scheme needs more, or if the quality isn’t what he deems satisfactory.
I would almost guarantee Drinkwitz and his staff are pursuing another DB signee for Wednesday. There’s lot of guys to choose from but 8 of the 19 total DBs are freshmen, and if you’ve been listening to me at all in my time here, you know that secondary success is closely tied to experience. Adding JUCO transfer Jadarrius Perkins is big as he will probably be getting starting-level reps at corner. Shawn Robinson got an early audition at safety towards the end of last year, but someone needs to step up to play with Martez Manuel. Maybe Jalani Williams? Drinkwitz has a ton of DBs signed in this class already, but I could see him getting another safety signed on Wednesday.
Nothing needed here. Kicker and punter are locked up for ‘21 and any punter worth a scholarship will be pursued in ‘22.
Missouri is currently at 81 scholarships, and starting in the ‘21 season, they can field a team with 85 scholarship players. This staff is good enough recruiters that you could reasonably estimate three more guys signing on Wednesday, but they could also easily walk away with nothing. I’d anticipate at least one more addition. We’ll see if the Drinkwitz magic hauls in any more past that.