Despite the herculean recruiting efforts of Eli Drinkwitz’s staff and a hyper-active transfer portal, there are still players on the Missouri roster that were offered a scholarship under the Odom regime. And not only are they still around but a good chunk of them are projected to be major contributors on the 2023 team.
Now, yes, each player had to weigh his options and choose to stay on the team after the regime change, and, yes, the Drinkwitz staff had to choose to keep them on the team and blah blah blah...point is, I’m classifying any player who committed to Mizzou and earned their scholarship before November 30th, 2019 as an Odom guy and anyone who earned their scholarship after that date as a Drinkwitz guy. Cool?
With that bifurcation of the roster established, we’re going to review the offensive and special teams players left on the roster this week and then follow up with the defensive players next week. Without further ado, here are the offensive players and special teamers recruited by Odom:
Brady Cook - Quarterback - Redshirt Junior
I don’t think there’s a single person on this planet who knows who will be Missouri’s starting quarterback this fall, including Eli Drinkwitz and his staff. Cook was the only realistic option last year since Jack Abraham had a nasty interception-throwing problem and Sam Horn was clearly not ready to play. Cook played admirably with half a shoulder for most of the year and is probably a perfectly fine college quarterback. If he makes a leap and keeps the job? Great. If he’s replaced by Garcia or Horn? Well, that’s also probably a good thing for the team. Either option is on the table at this point so whether he’s a starter for the entire year or part of the year is unclear.
Xavier Delgado - Offensive Guard - Graduate Student
Heading into his sixth year on campus, Xavier Delgado has shown that he’s a good college guard, a replacement level player at the position. He keeps getting playing time and snaps because he isn’t going to make a huge mistake...but you’d like to see a younger player with higher upside get some playing time in his stead. However, until said younger player shows that he can consistently avoid mistakes, Delgado will helm the starting left guard spot.
Javon Foster - Offensive Tackle - Graduate Student
Missouri’s best offensive linemen for the past two years, Foster heads into his sixth year hoping to play well enough to get some NFL Draft buzz. His skills have waxed and waned over the years, and while he hasn’t put it all together for one full season yet, the potential is absolutely there. Regardless of his talent fluctuation, it is a near guarantee that he’ll be a starter at one of the offensive tackle positions once the season kicks off.
Drake Heismeyer - Center - Redshirt Junior
Heismeyer finally got extended playing time at center last year in the bowl game when Connor Tollison was lost with an injury. Heismeyer played admirably against Wake Forest but, at least from spring reports, isn’t in serious contention to be the starting center this year. Regardless, he’s a Missouri kid who’s been doing a lot of fun NIL-related sponsorships of local eateries and, as a fourth-year player who has spent every season in Columbia, is one of the most experienced linemen on the team.
Harrison Mevis - Kicker - Senior
Our big, beautiful Thiccer fell off the wagon a little bit last year, missing four field goals under 40 yards and two kicks from beyond 40 yards. He’s still perfect on extra points and has kicked the second most field goals in a Missouri career and - with a career accuracy of 84.7% - is second in Missouri Tiger history, just below Scott Knickman’s career field goal accuracy of 85.7%. If Brady Cook somehow doesn’t win two Heisman Trophies over the next two years, we might end up saying that Harrison Mevis was the best player Barry Odom ever recruited. His name is certainly in the conversation, at least.
Mitchell Walters - Offensive Tackle - Redshirt Junior
After two years of riding the bench, Mitchell Walters finally started getting snaps at right guard last year. He wasn’t nearly as consistent or impactful as Connor Wood last year but, even with the offensive line upgrades acquired through the portal, it would be nice for Walters to make a developmental leap to offer yet another option to a line in desperate need of improvement.
No matter what, Foster and Delgado are gone after this season while Cook, Heismeyer, Mevis, and Walters could return for the ‘24 campaign (barring a transfer, of course).
While there are only six Odom recruits left on the 40-man offensive roster, you could reasonably talk yourself into seeing those guys taking up four positions worth of starter-level snaps, including two offensive linemen and - the most important position - quarterback. As a reminder, the offense plus kicker is 12 players so those six guys that make up 15% of the offensive roster could represent 33% of the offensive starter spots.
Obviously, “starting” doesn’t mean much but starter-level snaps is what we’d be looking at. And with Drinkwitz recruits making up 100% of the offensive skill position talent (running back, receiver, and tight end), it’ll be interesting to see how many of the offensive linemen and/or quarterbacks that Drink’s staff brought in are able to earn snaps this year.