Missouri made another addition to its 2023 recruiting class over the weekend by way of unranked WR/DB Nicholas DeLoach Jr. He’s a three sport athlete from Cahokia, IL who also starred on the wrestling mat and in multiple events for Cahokia’s Track and Field team.
His future will now be focused on the football field. He chose the Tigers over reported offers from Illinois State, Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa. DeLoach led Cahokia with 23 receptions for 358 yards and two touchdowns last season, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch statistics. He also reportedly finished with nine tackles and one interception on the defensive side of the ball.
Eli Drinkwitz made it clear from the moment he was hired that he would prioritize local talent. We’ve seen that in his first couple recruiting classes, and it’s becoming apparent 2023 will be more of the same. The Tigers have six known commitments for the 2023 class, with three from the state of Missouri and DeLoach from just across the river. The only current commitments from more than a couple hours away are quarterback commit Gabarri Johnson (Washington) and legacy wide receiver commit Marquis Johnson.
DeLoach is an upside play for the staff. He was a relative unknown on the recruiting trail, but the staff is betting on his traits. He has the length the staff looks for at 6-foot-1. He also has the athletic ability, having run a reported sub 4.5 40-yard dash while on campus at Missouri and finishing top three in the Illinois Class 2-A triple jump, long jump and high jump. That’s quite the athletic profile to build around.
Where he fits: DeLoach is listed as a wide receiver on most of the recruiting services, but Missouri is reportedly recruiting him as a defensive back, likely at corner. He joins a very young group of corners that’s received quite the influx of talent since the end of last season.
Darius Jackson, Kris Abrams-Draine and Ennis Rakestraw are the only corners on the roster with significant playing experience coming into the season. Darius Norwood, Davion Sistrunk, Daylan Carnell, L.J. Hewitt and Marcus Scott make up the rest of the depth chart. The Tigers are certainly throwing numbers at the situation, even if many of the players are unproven.
When he’ll play: Good question. It’s impossible to know, but the jump in competition for DeLoach will be significant. The staff is making a bet with the belief they found a diamond in the rough who possesses the necessary physical traits to develop into a high-end defensive back at the next level.
This is nothing new. The Tigers’ defensive staff has valued length and speed to a high degree in recent years. The only sub 6-foot scholarship corners on the roster are Abrams-Draine and Scott (5-foot-11).
What it all means: Missouri added a ‘toolsy’ player to its defensive backfield. This is somewhat similar to the Davion Sistrunk commit back in 2020. Sistrunk was an early commit, joining the 2021 class in mid-May. He was listed as an athlete that season, and it was clear upon watching his highlights that he had some work to do before seeing the field.
Much like Sistrunk in 2021, DeLoach is a project. But he has the necessary length and athleticism to make the jump to a higher level of competition at Mizzou.