This has been one of the more interesting years of recruiting that I can remember at Missouri, and very little of it has had to do with specific players.
After Missouri players went on strike last November in support of Concerned Student 1950, we have done nothing but speculate. How much will this be used against Mizzou in recruiting? How much will this 'scandal' hurt Missouri? It's hurt the school plenty in other areas, but seven months after J'Mon Moore visited Jonathan Butler, setting the protest wheels into motion, has it actually hurt recruiting? Has it helped?
There are a lot of factors going on here, so let's outline what we know (or think we know).
Missouri only has 5 commitments for the class of 2017
WR DaRon Davis (committed in November)
OL Hyrin White (March)
OL Pompey Coleman (April)
TE Logan Christopherson (June)
WR Jafar Armstrong (June)
That's Missouri's entire commitment list at the moment. Nobody else in the SEC has fewer than 10 commits. (Granted, UCLA only has four at the moment -- sometimes the guys you're in good shape with don't officially decide for a while.) The caliber of commit has been just fine; the quantity, not so much.
- Per Rivals, Missouri's class currently ranks 68th overall because class rankings gauge quality and quantity, and very few schools have as few as five commits. But in terms of per-commit star average, Mizzou currently ranks 22nd.
- Per the 247Sports Composite, Missouri ranks an even worse 79th, behind such teams as Miami (Ohio) (12 commits), NIU (11), Navy (13), Nevada (11), and Rice (13). The Tigers are predictably a distant last in the SEC, but again, in terms of per-recruit average, things are pretty good; they're currently ninth in the SEC instead of 14th.
So you can see whatever you want to see regarding whether Missouri is fine or not. But let's look into two specific reasons why I can't bring myself to worry about recruiting just yet.
Missouri has spent a larger-than-normal portion of the last five months continuing to recruit for 2016
Barry Odom and his staff continued to recruit for 2016 well after February's signing day. The Tigers landed lineman Darvis Holmes (their highest-rated 2016 signee per 247) in mid-June and JUCO OL Kyle Mitchell and OU graduate transfer Alex Ross in May. In an effort to shore up the offensive line, they pursued quite a few other grad transfers and JUCOs as well. (And there's a chance they're still not done.)
Including Harry Ballard, who committed a few days after signing day (and evidently won't be eligible this year), Missouri has landed commits from four class-of-2016 recruits/grad transfers since National Signing Day. Add those to the 2017 haul, and you've got a more normal number of commits.
That said, Mizzou is going big at the end of the month and attempting to bump that commit total up a bit.
Missouri doesn't have that many scholarships to give
The current scholarship count has Missouri sitting at 84 of the 85 allotted. Only 12 of those 84 are seniors. If you want to count Charles Harris, who is almost certainly going to be a top draft pick after this season (and is therefore probably on his last year of eligibility), that's 13. There's always attrition, but as it currently stands, that means Mizzou only has 14 scholarships to give for the 2017 class. That means that five commits represents 36 percent of the class.
We've known for a while that this senior class would be tiny -- fifth-year seniors here signed with the high-upside, low-downside class of 2012. Still, there's another factor at play here: Missouri (*knocks on wood*) hasn't lost that many players this offseason. After the events of last November, and the hostility that some players faced, one would have assumed that Mizzou would be dealing with a bit of a transfer problem.
That has not happened. In fact, considering both the protests and the coaching change (another frequent source of turnover), the low number of people transferring out has been staggering. It's something we maybe haven't talked enough about.
Granted, the attrition that did happen, happened at positions of already perilous depth (running back, offensive line), but still, the fact that Barry Odom might only have 14-18 scholarships to give in his first class is, in a roundabout way, a positive thing when it comes to harmony and the effects of November.
Because of the combination of a tiny senior class, a coaching change, and a 5-7 season, we were never going to get a clear look at how November might have affected this class. There are a lot of disparate factors here. But if nothing else, I would say that the low number of transfers suggests November isn't going to have that much of a negative impact. (I'm sure it has had an impact on specific recruits, but not enough to affect the caliber of a given class overall.)
You know other coaches will use this against Missouri for years to come, but by the time Barry Odom has a full recruiting class to work with, any protest impact will be offset by simply how Missouri is doing on the field.