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Eli Drinkwitz is practicing what he preaches

Drinkwitz said he would set a new standard of performance at Missouri. He’s doing exactly that on the recruiting trail.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve ever heard Eli Drinkwitz speak publicly, you’ve probably heard him mention something about “setting the standard of performance.” On the surface, his tag line sounds like nothing more than the latest coach speak cliche. And, let’s be honest, there is some truth to that.

But it takes on a bit of a new meaning when Drinkwitz practices what he preaches.

Drinkwtiz is setting a new standard of performance when it comes to Mizzou football recruiting. We’ve talked about this in the past, but he seems to set a new bar for himself with each passing month.

Two out-of-state 4-star players have committed to the Tigers in the first week of July. At the time of this piece, the Tigers currently have Rivals’ 13th ranked recruiting class in the country. I’m not saying that’s never happened before, but I am saying I can’t remember that happening before.

The newest commits are 4-star Texas running back Tavorus Jones and 4-star Nebraska offensive tackle Deshawn Woods.

If Jones sticks with his commitment, he would be the first Texas 4-star to sign with Mizzou since Chad Bailey. The only other Texas 4-stars to sign with the Tigers in the Rivals era are Tristen Holt (2010), James Franklin (2010) and Gilbert Moye (2007). Jones would be Rivals’ highest rated high school running back to sign with Mizzou... well, ever.

Let’s flip it over to Woods. Getting a commitment from a player like Jones is rare, but at least there’s precedent for Missouri having some recruiting success in Texas. The same is not exactly true in the state of Nebraska.

Rivals rated 24 recruits from the state of Nebraska as a 4 or 5-star player over the last 20 years. Among those 24 players, 19 signed with Nebraska. The lone exceptions went to Iowa, Oregon, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Iowa State. What’s more is that Missouri really hasn’t even wasted its time with attempting to recruit in Nebraska. Forget commits, Rivals only lists a Mizzou offer for FOUR Nebraska prospects prior to the Drinkwitz era. Three of them eventually landed at - you guessed it - Nebraska. The outlier was 2013 3-star defensive end Christian Lacouture, who eventually signed with LSU.

Drinkwitz has offered more Nebraska prospects in the last two years than the previous staffs offered in the 20 years prior, combined. I say all that to say this - the success we’re witnessing isn’t random. Drinkwitz and his staff are successfully identifying high profile prospects both in and out of the state of Missouri who might give the Tigers a real look. You don’t know if you don’t try. In the past, Missouri didn’t offer a player like Woods. In turn, he wouldn’t make it on campus and he certainly wouldn’t give the Tigers any consideration for a commit.

Now all of the above is taking place.

There is no precedent for Mizzou’s recent recruiting success. Drinkwitz is trying things we’ve never seen from a Missouri football coach before. The only thing I can compare this to is that random October weekend in 2014 when 5-star guard Tyler Blakeney, 5-star guard Isaiah Briscoe and 4-star forward Thomas Bryant were all on campus together. Kim Anderson was the basketball coach at the time, and the visit amounted in basically nothing. All three decided to play basketball elsewhere.

Drinkwitz is offering prospects who wouldn’t have been on the Tigers’ radar in the past. He’s getting them to visit campus. And he’s closing the deal. That last part is crucial. It’s one thing to offer high-profile recruits. It’s another entirely to convince those players they should spend the next four years of their lives in Columbia, Missouri.

Drinkwitz is setting a new standard for Mizzou recruiting. I think I could get used to this.