Ladies and gentlemen, it’s spring ball time!
With spring practice officially kicking off, it’s time to take a look at which players are back, which players are gone and which players the Tigers have added since the end of the 2020 season.
- Jarvis Ware (Junior)
- Chris Mills (Junior)
- Ennis Rakestraw (Sophomore)
- Ishmael Burdine (Sophomore)
- Jaylon Carlies (Sophomore)
- Kris Abrams-Draine (Sophomore)
- Jadarrius Perkins (3-Star - Gulf Coast Community College)
- Daylan Carnell (4-Star - Indianapolis, IN)
- Darius Jackson (3-Star - Dallas, TX
- Zxaequan Reeves (3-Star - Cocoa, FL)
- Davion Sistrunk (3-Star - Melbourne, FL)
Returning Player Analysis:
Baptism by fire was the moral of the story for the Tigers’ corners in 2020. It certainly led to some frustrations. The Tigers had plenty of struggles in the secondary last year, and that had a lot to do with the youth at the position.
The nice thing about playing young guys at a premium position, though, is that they eventually get older. (That’s the kind of analysis you can only get at Rock M Nation. They pay me the big bucks for that.)
In all seriousness, the relative youth at the position isn’t such a bad thing. The Tigers got a lot of valuable experience for their corners, and the only one who won’t return from a year ago is Adam Sparks. Sparks entered the transfer portal before the end of last season.
One thing we know to be true about this coaching staff is they have a certain profile of corner they like to target.
Mizzou currently has 11 corners on scholarship for the 2021 season. Ten of those 11 players are at least six foot tall. Three of them are listed at 6-foot-3. Those are some LONG corners. The lone exception is Kris Abrams-Draine, and he originally committed to the Tigers as a slot receiver.
New Arrival to Keep an Eye on:
What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? That’s basically the way I would approach the new additions at cornerback. There’s something for everyone.
Jadarrius Perkins was the top-rated Junior College corner in the country before he committed late to the Tigers. Daylan Carnell was a legitimate 4-star recruit out of Indianapolis, and he’s probably my favorite among the freshmen to see the field right away. Davion Sistrunk is an athletic freak and a lifelong basketball player who transitioned to football late in his high school career. He’s definitely a project, but he might have the highest ceiling of any of the high school additions. And I haven’t even mentioned Darius Jackson or Zxaequan Reeves.
If you’re looking for the new addition most likely to see the field right away, it’s almost certainly Perkins and/or Carnell. But don’t forget about Sistrunk. If he translates to the college game, he could be a heck of a player by the time his Mizzou career comes to an end.
Position Battle to Watch:
I mean, everything? Ennis Rakestraw is almost certainly going to be one of the Tigers’ starting cornerbacks when the Tigers take the field for the first time this fall. Jarvis Ware should be viewed as the co-favorite, but he’s out for the spring while he recovers from an offseason knee surgery. Beyond that? Your guess is as good as mine.
The Tigers will need five corners they feel comfortable playing significant snaps going into the season. Three of those five will be “starters.” The fourth corner sees more snaps than you would expect. And the fifth corner is going to be crucial if there are any injuries at the position throughout the season.
If I had to guess, I would think Ishmael Burdine, Jaylon Carlies, Perkins and Carnell should all battle for those depth spots before Ware returns. At least two of those four should see significant playing time in the upcoming season.
What the Tigers lack in production at the position, they boast in talent. No, they’re not stocked with five stars at the position like Alabama, but they do have a player in Rakestraw who was the crown jewel of the 2020 recruiting class. Carnell and Perkins were blue chip talents in the 2021 class. And there are a number of “projects” who could turn out to be studs at the college level if they’re able to put it all together.
Eli Drinkwitz and his staff have done a fantastic job of upgrading the talent and the length at the position. There’s a prototype that they’re looking for and they’ve found it in spades.
It’s also noteworthy that the Tigers have added new defensive backs coach Aaron Fletcher and defensive coordinator Steve Wilks to the mix this offseason. Both specialize in developing cornerback talent.
Acquire talent, develop talent and coach that talent up. That’s the name of the game. The Tigers have accomplished that first goal. This spring should be all about developing the talent on the field.