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Too many quarterbacks is ‘one of them good problems’

Mizzou is about to enter a rare situation in which it has two blue chip quarterbacks and a 2-year starter. Wait, is that supposed to be a problem?

NCAA Football: Georgia at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

By now you’ve seen the news. Eli Drinkwitz did what he does by securing another big time commitment, this time in the form of 4-star quarterback, Sam Horn.

Horn is a superstar talent. Rivals has him ranked as the sixth best pro-style quarterback in the country. If he follows through with his commitment, Horn would be Rivals’ highest rated quarterback to sign with Mizzou since Blaine Gabbert signed with the Tigers in 2008.

The Tigers signed five “blue chip” quarterbacks between 2000 and 2020. Drinkwitz has signed one in each of his first two recruiting classes. It’s the first time Mizzou has signed 4-star quarterbacks in back-to-back classes in the Rivals era.

Not too shabby.

All of this is good, right? Well, not for some.

With blue chip talent comes competition. With competition comes, well, transfers. That can be frustrating. The reality of the situation is this: one quarterback plays. The quarterbacks who don’t play tend to transfer. That’s college football in 2021.

That hasn’t much mattered in the past for Mizzou. Gary Pinkel did a pretty good job of spacing out his high-end quarterback recruits. Drew Lock was the answer for so long under Barry Odom that transfers behind him never really became an issue.

This is borderline uncharted territory for Mizzou. And that’s one of them good problems.

By the time Horn gets to Mizzou, Bazelak will be a 2-year starter. Former 4-star Tyler Macon will be entering his second year on campus. The cold, hard reality is it’s likely one of them (if not multiple) will transfer before their eligibility at Missouri runs out. That’s unfortunate. But it’s how college football works.

Drinkwitz has achieved what I honestly didn’t think possible at Mizzou. He seems to be consistently recruiting at a borderline top-25 level. That’s great. It’s a necessary step for Mizzou to compete at the highest level in the SEC. But it’s not the only step.

The next step might be every bit as difficult. It’s the step that made Pinkel a special coach. Next up is the player development and evaluation. It’s not enough to just get the talent on campus. The Tigers have to develop potential into production.

Drinkwitz is a quarterback guy. He spent a significant portion of his opening press conference at Mizzou talking about his plan at the position.

“Our style of play on offense is a pro-tempo style,” Drinkwitz said. “We’re going to be quarterback driven. We’re going to have a dominant downhill running game, a vertical passing game and we’re going to execute under pressure.“

“I look for five characteristics in a quarterback: toughness, preparation, decision-making, accuracy and leadership,” Drinkwitz said. “Those five requirements don’t fit in a box. Leaders comes in all shapes and sizes, quarterbacks come in all shapes and sizes. But I think all great quarterbacks possess those five things.”

It’s going to be up to Drinkwitz to make sure he picks the right player to lead Missouri into the future. Maybe Bazelak finishes out his career at Mizzou and one of Macon or Horn takes over from there. Maybe Macon or Horn wins the job next fall. I’m not sure how this will work out. Nobody does. Not yet.

The best comparison for this type of situation is what happened a few years ago at Georgia. The Bulldogs secured commitments from 5-star Jacob Eason, 5-star Jake Fromm and 5-star Justin Fields in back-to-back-to-back years.

Eason started as a freshman and was replaced by Fromm the following year. Eason transferred to Washington by his junior year. Fields spent his freshman season backing up Fromm, and transferred to Ohio State by his sophomore season.

Georgia had Eason, Fromm and Fields and might have picked the third best of the bunch. Looking back, everyone would agree the Bulldogs would have been much better off with Fields. They picked the wrong guy, and they failed to win a national title as a result. That kind of mistake only means so much at Georgia because the entire roster is constructed with four and five star talent. It’s much more consequential at a place like Missouri.

Missouri’s quarterback situation is in good hands. The first step is getting talent on campus. The next step is development. And then it will come down to evaluation.

Drinkwitz nailed the first step. Signs are pointing in a positive direction with the development based on Bazelak’s season. The evaluation is going to be tested in the next year or two.

It’s unlikely Bazelak, Macon and Horn will each finish their careers at Missouri. That’s okay.

In the words of Marlo Stanfield, Missouri finally has ‘one of them good problems.’