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Roster Math: Post Signing Day 2022

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Let’s count to 85

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The college football recruitment of the high school graduating class of 2022 is complete. There will be transfers between now and September (and continuing throughout the season, of course) but a major checkpoint in the roster construction timeline has been marked and it’s time to take stock.

Good news, Tiger fans! Your 2022 Missouri Football Tiger recruiting class is ranked 17th by Rivals, 14th by the 247 Composite, and 11th by ESPN, easily the greatest class in school history regardless of recruiting service you subscribe to. In addition, the lone transfer portal ranking machine - in this case, 247 - ranks Missouri’s current transfer portal crop as 13th best in the country. No matter how you look at it, there’s a growing talent pool in Columbia and some of them will finally start seeing the field in game one against Louisiana Tech this year.

Here’s the complete (so far) list of the 2022 recruiting class + transfers:

2022 Recruiting Class (High Schoolers + Transfers)

With the first round complete of seniors/fifth year players exiting from the roster, here’s the current scholarship breakdown heading into 2022 spring practices:

2022 Scholarship Count

If you look at the bottom right-hand corner of that chat you will notice that our Tigers are over the 85-scholarship limit. I’ll get to that eventually. Let’s break it down by position for a slightly deeper look into the roster management.

Quarterbacks

Quarterbacks

Current Scholarship Count: 2

Incoming Transfers: 0

Incoming High Schoolers: 1

Let’s address this now: Does Bush Hamdan, Eli Drinkwitz, and this offensive staff want to take on a transfer quarterback? Drink said in one of his press conferences they didn’t see any who interested them from the current portal names, but the list of quarterbacks in the portal will shift dramatically once everyone’s spring practices are done.

The issue here is “ego management”: quarterbacks want to play and only one can play at a time. That means the guys on your roster want to start, and any guy looking to transfer wants to start, and they’re going to go to a place where they believe they have the best chance of doing so.

If this staff brings in a transfer quarterback, you risk losing Cook or Macon, flat out. If that transfer has more than two years of eligibility remaining, you might also lose Horn. So is a one-year flyer worth it to potentially losing two guys? Unless you can know for sure the transfer is “THE ANSWER” and you trust to sell this to your current quarterback room in a manner that doesn’t push them out, then my answer is an emphatic NO. With Hamdan now assuming full control of the Tiger quarterbacks, I’d suggest rolling into 2022 with a trio of super young signal callers and let them figure it out through the season.

Running Backs

Running Backs

Current Scholarship Count: 5

Incoming Transfers: 1

Incoming High Schoolers: 1

With the addition of possible Tyler Badie-clone Nathaniel Peat, plus the signing of blue chipper Tavorus Jones, Missouri is absolutely done recruiting running backs. Even if one transferred away I don’t see them bringing in any more in for 2022.

Wide Receivers

Wide Receivers

Current Scholarship Count: 6

Incoming Transfers: 0

Incoming High Schoolers: 3

The Tigers should also be done recruiting this position. Don’t get me wrong; if Pitt’s Biletnikoff-winning receiver Jordan Addison suddenly said, “I’m done with Pitt and want to join Missouri” then, yes, Drinkwitz would take him and figure out the roster numbers later. But, right now, a receiving talent like that isn’t in the portal and Mizzou has some damn good receivers coming in to pair with the exciting youth we’ve already seen in action.

Tight Ends

Tight Ends

Current Scholarship Count: 2

Incoming Transfers: 1

Incoming High Schoolers: 1

With the departures of Daniel Parker, Jr. and Messiah Swinson - plus the surprise medical retirement of Niko Hea - Missouri needed an experienced tight end to help spell the rising tight end power tandem of HORSE WHIZ. The Tigers got exactly what they wanted in Tyler Stephens, whose 2021 numbers are almost an exact copy of what Niko Hea did last year. New tight ends coach Erik Link will hopefully rub some of his special teams magic on the smaller collection of tight ends 2022 boasts, but should be done from a recruiting standpoint.

Offensive Line

Offensive Line

Current Scholarship Count: 12

Incoming Transfers: 2

Incoming High Schoolers: 4

The classes are almost perfectly balanced and there’s plenty of options at all five positions of the offensive line. Barring a surprise transfer from a player who will be relied upon to start, I don’t see any more additions for this position group.

Defensive Line

Defensive Line

Current Scholarship Count: 12

Incoming Transfers: 3

Incoming High Schoolers: 3

Heading into the offseason, I figured that Missouri was deep and young enough on the defensive line there was no way they’d be taking anybody aside from a few interior players from the high school ranks. Instead, they brought in three transfers to accompany their three high schoolers. To me, that either means, a.) they don’t like their depth options, or b.) the depth options aren’t ready to play just yet and they need insurance. I’m leaning more towards “b” at this point, but it is odd that there were so many young options who could see see the field - particularly at edge - and Jeffcoat, McGuire, and Johnny Walker, Jr. were the only three ends who saw more than 100 snaps on the year (and Jeffcoat and McGuire were, essentially, the only options). Hopefully the youth has improved with another year of development. As it is, I’m just going to assume this staff will continue to add experienced linemen until they can’t any more.

Linebackers

Linebackers

Current Scholarship Count: 6

Incoming Transfers: 1

Incoming High Schoolers: 2

Blaze Alldredge was a double-edged sword at linebacker in ‘21, but regardless, his production needed to be replaced to pair with a rising Chad Bailey. Enter Ty’Ron Hopper, the former Florida Gator blue-chipper who steps onto campus with high expectations, but at least fills the gap left by our favorite graduating stick of dynamite. Steve Wilks’ 4-2-5 doesn’t need a ton of linebackers, but at least needs to fill a reliable 3-man rotation. Unless another experienced volume tackler hits the transfer market, the Tigers should be good here.

Secondary

Secondary

Current Scholarship Count: 12

Incoming Transfers: 2

Incoming High Schoolers: 2

Much like both of Missouri’s lines, the secondary’s strength is bountiful of young talent as far as the eye can see. With last year’s heaviest-usage corners off to the NFL Draft, Missouri needs someone to step up and play with Martez Manuel, Jaylon Carlies, and nickel-specialist Kris Abrams-Draine. Texas A&M transfer Dreyden Norwood adds another option at corner, while Clemson transfer Joseph Charleston was a blue-chipper coming out of high school with a sleepy stat sheet over the past three years. The only addition I could see here is an older, experienced corner who could project as a starter; otherwise the Tigers should be good here.

Specialists

Specialists

Current Scholarship Count: 4

Incoming Transfers: 0

Incoming High Schoolers: 0

On the one hand, giving scholarships to kickers, punters, and long snappers seems like a misallocation of resources when you’re trying to grab the next best pass rusher or quarterback. On the other hand, special teams are one-third of a successful football team - one that has kept Missouri in games over the past two years - and if you want excellent foot folks like Grant McKinniss and the Thiccer to play for your team, you need a scholarship to entice them to come and play. It sounds like, right now, current fifth-year walk-on Sean Koetting will be taking over the punting responsibilities for McKinniss, so don’t look for any additions to this group in ‘22.

So....that’s 87 dudes, right?

Right!

And you need to be at 85 to play college football!

It would be unfair of me to sit here and say “oh this guy should go” or “there’s no way this dude will play, he should leave and make room for others” but that’s certainly the conversation that this coaching staff is going to have over the next few months.

The incoming recruiting class (high school + transfers) is currently sitting at 27 guys and they have approval to take five more players in this particular class if they want them thanks to the NCAA’s one year transfer waiver rule.

But, again 87 > 85 and any possible additions are a moot point until at least two guys leave.

If you want to try and figure out on your own who could go be pushed out, your first look will be at the “super senior” class of guys who are playing their bonus sixth year. Barrett Banister has officially said on Twitter he’s coming back in ‘22 so the super seniors left are Zeke Powell, Hyrin White, Connor Wood, Tyrone Hopper, Ben Key, Jake Hoffman, and Sean Koetting. There’s only really one or two I could see in that group who might be done, but my assumption is they’re all coming back.

So that leaves underclassmen. In this case, look at positions of extreme depth (offensive line, edge rusher, linebacker, cornerback) where there’s a lot of youth, lots of transfers coming in, and any guy who’s only seen a handful of snaps in two-ish years on the team. Again, it’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s a good place to look.

Spring Ball gives a team the first look at how coaches view a roster and, therefore, is another prime transfer opportunity. The question isn’t, “Can this team get down to 85 scholarships?”; it’s just when does that happen and who ends up leaving. We’ll find out in a few months!