Kansas City-area receiver Jafar Armstrong, a product of Bishop Miege high school, committed to Missouri back in June, and at the flip of the calendar it appeared he was as solid a commit as anyone on Mizzou’s board. That changed in recent weeks, however. Given the opportunity to make a couple of official visits late in the process, he chose Minnesota and Notre Dame, and while he told reporters this last week that he was still firmly set on signing with the Tigers, that changed upon his visit to South Bend.
A few thoughts:
1. This is football recruiting, which means this announcement has been met with vitriol by Mizzou fans, many of whom are twice his age or older. This is in no way unique to Mizzou, but it’s pretty pathetic nonetheless. Don’t tweet at recruits, and especially don’t tweet angrily at them.
2. From a ratings standpoint, this one hurts a bit. This was never going to be a top-25 class, and the success of this class will be built around development no matter what. But Mizzou’s ranking could suffer by a spot or two in the end because of this.
Armstrong is in no way a blue-chipper, but he was Missouri’s second most highly-rated commit per the 247Sports Composite. Plus, it will further a growing narrative that Missouri is struggling with local recruiting. Barry Odom and staff didn’t offer many in-state or KC/StL-area recruits in this class, but as things currently stand, they’ll have landed only one of the players they did offer.
Plus, though receiver wasn’t a drastic need for Mizzou in this class (we’ll get to that in a second), this means that Missouri will have missed out on three of four semi-local star receivers. Of DaRon Davis, Jeff Thomas, Jaevon McQuitty, and Armstrong, only Davis will sign with Mizzou.
3. From a position standpoint, as mentioned, it’s not the end of the world. Fellow KC-area receiver DaRon Davis is Mizzou’s most highly-rated commit prospect, and the Tigers return nine wideouts with some level of experience: J’Mon Moore, Dimetrios Mason, Johnathon Johnson, Emanuel Hall, Richaud Floyd, Ray Wingo, Justin Smith, Dominic Collins, and, fresh from injury, Nate Brown.
Of that group, only one is a senior. If these players continue to develop — and as things currently stand, there’s no specific reason to assume they won’t — then receiver will be a strength even without Armstrong.
4. This technically goes for Elijah Gardiner, too. The longtime Mizzou commit is visiting Ohio State this weekend, and we’ll see if he ends up flipping, if he has a committable offer from them, etc. Mizzou will deep in 2017 without him, too, but ... well ... it would stink to lose two commits that Mizzou really liked, this late in the game. You want to be doing the flipping, not getting flipped.
5. That Armstrong decommitted now and didn’t simply make his announcement on Signing Day means Mizzou has time to adapt. Three-star Alabama receiver Jaylond Adams, for instance, visited Columbia this weekend.
If Adams didn’t already have a solid offer (we’ll find out when recruiting services catch up with him in the coming hours/days), he probably will now. If he were to commit, that means Mizzou’s recruiting ranking would take a ding, but not much of one. Armstrong’s 247 rating is 0.8709 (0.895 and above = 4 stars), while Adams’ is 0.8422. Plus, while Davis and Gardiner are likely wideouts, Adams could fill a more natural role in the slot.
Losing commits stinks. With a series of offensive line flips a few years ago, we saw exactly how it can affect long-term depth when you lose guys you thought you had. But receiver wasn’t a serious position of need for Missouri in 2017, and if Armstrong’s heart is elsewhere ... well ... he should go elsewhere.