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Missouri's 2016 signing class checks quite a few boxes but leaves a couple unchecked

Mizzou wanted to land a couple more impact players at offensive line and safety, but Barry Odom's first class addresses skill position needs and further plumps up depth in the defensive front seven.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

As a new coach, you'll face quite a bit of pressure to come up with some big hits in your first full recruiting class. It's your first chance to articulate your vision, and since you haven't actually coached many games yet, there's no way to prove your vision wrong. SB Nation's Bud Elliott calls it the New Coach Smell. You get a grace period, and coaches often punch pretty far above their weight class in their first full go-round.

For Barry Odom, that first go-round basically begins tomorrow and ends on National Signing Day in 2017. He has put together a staff full of well-regarded recruiters -- he kept Andy Hill, Cornell Ford, and Ryan Walters, and he added Glen Elarbee, Demontie Cross, Jackie Shipp, Joe Jon Finley, etc. -- and they'll soon begin to ply their trade in a loaded 2017 class.

This time around, however, it was mostly about scrambling, salvaging, and flipping. Odom was still putting his first staff together into January (February, actually, thanks to Chris Wilson's abrupt departure and Wednesday's official addition of Shipp) and only had a couple of big recruiting weekends to make a splash. This class was more about filling holes than making a long-term statement, and keeping in mind that more recruiting news could come down the pike in the coming days/weeks (especially news of transfers), it appears Missouri both succeeded and failed in that regard. Let's go position by position.


Signees (1): Micah Wilson (Fr.)

With Maty Mauk's dismissal and Eddie Printz's transfer, Wilson will walk in the door as the No. 3 quarterback behind Drew Lock and Marvin Zanders. (And yes, there have been rumblings regarding Zanders transferring, too.) Mizzou needed to sign at least one decent quarterback, and there was talk for a while that the Tigers might try to sign two. But they got a solid-looking prospect in Wilson, a three-star legacy.

Goals met? Yes.

Running Back

Signees (2): Nate Strong (So.), Damarea Crockett (Fr.)

Looking at the running back position is a little bit bittersweet. Mizzou kept Nate Strong on board and brought in a four-star in Damarea Crockett. Good! The Tigers missed on both Arkeem Byrd and Joshua Jacobs. Bad! It appeared Odom and his staff really wanted to sign a third back and thus far have missed out on doing that. Still, with so many bodies returning next year -- Ish Witter, Chase Abbington, Trevon Walters, Marquise Doherty, Ryan Williams -- there will be options for new RBs coach Cornell Ford. The only reason for disappointment here is because we knew the coaches wanted one more.

Goals met? Kind of.

Wide Receiver

Signees (3): Chris Black (Sr.), Dominic Collins (Jr.), Demetrios Mason (Fr.)*

* Mizzou listed Mason as an "athlete" when he signed, which means he could end up at either WR or DB. Mizzou's more immediate need is at receiver, however, so I'll place him here for now.

Mizzou clearly felt compelled to add both quality and experience to the receiver ranks, and while these three signees still have plenty to prove, Black and Collins will certainly contribute from an experience standpoint. Black was on or around Alabama's two-deep for much of three seasons and was held back in 2015 by injury. Collins, meanwhile, caught over 70 passes last season, and while it was at the JUCO level ... again, Mizzou was starving for experienced options. Collins qualifies.

Goals met? Yes.

Tight End/H-Back

Signees (2): Brendan Scales (Fr.), Albert Okwuegbunam (Fr.)

We know that Josh Heupel wanted more options at the tight end and (especially) H-Back positions, and while Okwuegbunam is more of a lanky Chase Coffman type (in build, not in quality ... though, hey, if he wanted to be that good...), Scales might be Mizzou's most ready H-Back the moment he walks in the door. And his telling that Heupel told him about some potential Wildcat formation opportunities is ... interesting. Can Harold Brantley line up at RB in the WildScales (ScalesCat? BrendanDozer?) package?

Goals met? Yes.

Offensive Line

Signees (3): Tyler Howell (Jr.), Trystan Castillo (Fr.), Tre'vour Simms (Fr.)

It always seems that if Mizzou is going to miss in a given unit, it's going to miss on the offensive line. The Tigers lost the commitments of both Mackenzie Nworah and Royce Newman during the coaching change and its aftermath, and while Odom and company did manage to flip Tre'vour Simms from Illinois, it was obvious that they were aiming for more. They threw a lot of offers out to JUCO prospects and a few players committed to other schools, but they came up mostly empty. (Again, transfer season could still rectify that.)

Still, in getting Howell back in the fold, Mizzou might have locked down a potential new starter for 2016. And hey, while two left, Simms could have ended up back with Illinois and Castillo could have ended up with Iowa State or Minnesota. It could have been better, but ... it could have been worse.

Goals met? No.

Defensive End

Signees (1): Tre Williams (Fr.)

Obviously we're still waiting for more of the story to unfold regarding Marvin Terry, Odom's first commit after taking the head coaching job. Not sure what's going on there yet, but it would certainly be disappointing if that commitment fell through at the last second.

That said, the needs were minimal up front in this class. Mizzou landed an awesome-looking rush end prospect in Tre Williams, and with everybody returning from last year's senior-free two-deep, along with Harold Brantley, this wasn't a class that was going to be defined by defensive linemen. Next year? Maybe.

Goals met? Sort of.

Defensive Tackle

Signees (1): Markell Utsey (Fr.)

Mizzou threw out a couple of offers to JUCO defensive tackles late in the recruiting game, which was honestly a little bit confusing, but they seemed mostly content with landing Utsey. With the aforementioned clogged depth chart, they can take their time with Utsey, who at the very least has a great frame.

Goals met? Yes.


Signees (2): Trey Baldwin (Fr.), Cale Garrett (Fr.)

There's always one guy whose recruiting ranking simply baffles me -- I cannot for the life of me understand how Trey Baldwin was only a two-star prospect. In terms of film, frame, etc., he checks every box for me. We'll see.

But that's just me grumbling. With Brandon Lee, Terez Hall, and Roderick Winters entering their sophomore campaigns and Franklin Agbasimere getting ready to enter the fray as a redshirt freshman, Mizzou's need at linebacker seemed low, too. If either Baldwin or Garrett is able to turn into something viable in a couple of years, this class will have been a success at the LB position.

Goals met? Yes.


Signees (2): Christian Holmes (Fr.), Jerod Alton (Fr.)

Two incredible athletes who can be groomed slowly because of the backlog ahead of them on the depth chart (Aarion Penton and John Gibson will be seniors in 2016, Logan Cheadle and Anthony Hines will be juniors, and Finis Stribling IV will be a sophomore)? Sounds good to me.

Goals met? Yes.


Signees (2): Greg Taylor (So.), DeMarkus Acy (Fr.)

Mizzou was able to hold onto both Taylor (who originally committed to Mizzou in 2013) and Acy, which was good. But if Cam Hilton or Ronnell Perkins do not move back to safety, you're basically looking at Anthony Sherrils, Thomas Wilson, and TJ Warren available in the spring with Tavon Ross out. And it was clear with a few of the offers Mizzou sent out in January that the Tigers were looking for one more JUCO prospect here. Didn't happen. The potential of this unit is outstanding, but Mizzou could have used another warm body or two.

Goals met? No.

Special Teams

Signees (1): Tucker McCann (Fr.)

Mizzou's got Corey Fatony locked up for three more years at the punter position. Now the next special teams scholarship offeree, kicker Tucker McCann, comes to Columbia with pretty high expectations. If he's solid, Mizzou's taken care of for years in the legs department.

Goals met? Yes.