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Where are Missouri’s football recruits coming from?


National Signing Day has come and gone, and college football fans everywhere are welcoming a new class of young athletes to their respective universities.

As for our beloved Mizzou Tigers, much has been made in the past few years about not only what kind of talent the program is attracting, but where the talent is coming from. Gary Pinkel undoubtedly shifted his recruiting focus to the southeast with the move to the SEC, leaving some fans disappointed with a seeming lack of effort in Texas.

Since Barry Odom took the helm, the narrative has been that that Mizzou would like to get back to recruiting the Lone Star State. But is that all talk? Or is Missouri really focusing in on Texas in the first couple of years of Barry Odom’s tenure?

Let’s take a look at the past few recruiting classes at Missouri. We’ll analyze Gary Pinkel’s final classes as head coach alongside Barry Odom’s first classes. We’ll also take a brief look at how things are shaping up for 2018, if only to get an idea of how Odom is thinking about the future.

2014 Mizzou Recruits

State # of Recruits
State # of Recruits
Missouri 7
Florida 7
Georgia 3
Tennessee 3
Texas 2
Indiana 1
Illinois 1
Mississippi 1
Kansas 1
Alabama 1

This was perhaps Pinkel’s most “SEC” class, despite ranking 39th according to 247. You can clearly see the effort to break into the Southeast, with a total of 15 recruits coming from traditionally southeastern states. Florida was a special emphasis in 2014, yielding just as many recruits as Missouri did (!).

The results of this class, however, were mixed. Ish Witter stands out among the group, as he’s been a career contributor. No one else in that southeastern group quite measures up, though. Marvin Zanders (Florida) looked like a promising talent before he rightfully transferred to find more playing time. Walter Brady (Alabama) was a freshman All-American before being dismissed from the team.

A few players could serve as bigger pieces in 2017 and beyond though: Paul Adams (Tennessee) had a solid year on the offensive line in 2016, while Nate Brown and Tavon Ross (Georgia) have yet to show what they can do when fully healthy.

2015 Mizzou Recruits

State # of Recruits
State # of Recruits
Missouri 8
Kansas 3
California 3
Georgia 3
Tennessee 3
Illinois 1
Mississippi 1
Louisiana 1
Florida 1

Two things here.

  1. Pinkel either abandoned his SEC recruiting ambitions in his last class or largely had a hard time making inroads from 2014. Only 9 recruits here came from southeast states.
  2. Thanks, Gary, for going out with a bang.

The 2015 class is a doozy in retrospect, and it could get even better over the next year or two. It’s littered with core pieces: Terry Beckner Jr.; Drew Lock; Marcell Frazier; Johnathon Johnson; Corey Fatony; Tyler Howell. It’s also ripe with more potential: Terez Hall; Emanuel Hall; Ronnell Perkins; Franklin Agbasimere; etc.

The thing about this class that’s interesting from a geographic standpoint is that only two of the core contributors — at this point, anyway — have been from SEC states: Johnson and Fatony both hail from Tennessee.

Furthermore, Pinkel seemed to have largely abandoned Florida, only drawing one recruit in this class (Agbasimere). Maybe he saw something in that 2014 class that bothered him in the first year. Or maybe it was just randomness. Regardless, he largely stuck to Missouri with supplemental pieces elsewhere, and so far it has yielded good results.

2016 Mizzou Recruits

State # of Recruits
State # of Recruits
Missouri 5
Georgia 3
Illinois 3
Mississippi 2
Arkansas 2
Texas 2
Oklahoma 1
California 1

We’re only one year removed from Barry Odom’s first class, and it’s still too early to give this class an objective grade. It was ranked 43rd — 13th in the SEC — but it has the makings of a pretty decent roundup.

Late pickup Damarea Crockett was Missouri’s first recruit out of Arkansas in years, and now he looks like an offensive building block for years to come. Tucker McCann struggled mightily in his first year, but he was a coveted kicker who has the talent to be great. A host of others performed admirably in their first year and could help turn the tide of Missouri Football in 2017.

Of note: Odom’s promise to refocus on Texas doesn’t seem empty. He did pull two recruits out of Texas: DeMarkus Acy and Trey Baldwin. Both seem well-equipped to contribute down the road. I also found it telling, if not surprising, that only five* recruits came from SEC states — three from Georgia and two from Arkansas.

To be fair, though, all of those guys — Crockett and Dimetrios Mason, particularly — seem like good gets.

* Technically, two more recruits came from Mississippi, but they were Greg Taylor and Nate Strong, East St. Louis products who had to go the JUCO route before ending up in Columbia.

2017 Mizzou Recruits

State # of Recruits
State # of Recruits
Texas 5
Louisiana 3
Arizona 3
Florida 2
Michigan 2
Georgia 1
Missouri 1
Tennessee 1
Indiana 1
New Mexico 1
Arkansas 1
Illinois 1
Alabama 1
North Carolina 1
New York 1

Here it is. The 2017 class. NSD wasn’t particularly eventful aside from the surprise signing of Malik Young at the end of the day. After a few looks over the class, here are my key takeaways:

1. It’s a bit all over the place, isn’t it? Fifteen states are represented here, and only five of them have multiple commits. Including junior colleges, Odom dipped into North Carolina, New York, Michigan, Arizona and New Mexico, all states relatively untouched in the past 5 years.

2. Texas, y’all. It’s back! Texas is Mizzou’s leading source of recruits this year, with five signees. And it might have been six without the late-minute swap from Eli Gardiner (though Mizzou might not have offered fellow Texas product O’Shae Clark if Gardiner were still aboard).

3. Missouri? I’m not ready to hit the panic button, but it is disconcerting that Mizzou signed only one area player, especially after Jafar Armstrong decided to decommit from his “favorite team” to head to Notre Dame. Yes, ND is a big draw, and the desire to live somewhere new is strong for a teenager. But Armstrong was arguably the best recruit in this class.

DaRon Davis is still a big get, but Pinkel ended his career with a big push in Missouri and Illinois. Hopefully the focus on getting back into Texas doesn’t cause the staff to lose grip of the homeland.

Looking ahead

Speaking of the homeland, Odom will have a chance to make up for a seeming lack of Missouri recruits in 2018. 247 currently has four 4-star players listed, but that number will probably get a bump at some point.

St. Louis especially is a hot bed of talented players for 2018, and Mizzou seems to be in the mix for most, if not all, of them. And if Odom’s Wednesday comments are any indication, the strength of St. Louis is not lost on him and his staff.

But looking at the above numbers, it certainly seems like Odom is making good on the promise to get back into the thick of things in Texas. DeMontie Cross has surely been a boon to that effort, and adding former Texas assistant Brick Haley to the staff only bolstered what seems to be a burgeoning strength.

We don’t have the benefit of foresight, so there’s no telling on how this effort will work out for Mizzou talent-wise. But if the talent evaluation in 2017 is good, and the staff can gather a strong 2018 class with a wealth of talent from Missouri, it won’t be long before the troubles of 2015 and 2016 are mere memories.

Note: Recruit’s states were taken from 247 and differ slightly from the information given by the university.