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How large will Missouri’s 2018 football recruiting class be?

The Tigers’ 2018 commit list doubled over the weekend. Could it double yet again by the end of the season?

Oscar Gambler

Missouri is sitting at 10 pledges for the 2018 recruiting cycle, having picked up five from this past weekend’s Night at the Zou recruiting event.

By my math, that means the Tigers have committed to 79 scholarships after this year, meaning they would technically only have room for six more commitments. Obviously that number is fluid given decommitments, transfers, and the general attrition that occurs at all schools.

In his first two years, Barry Odom signed 22 and 26 recruits, respectively. Several have become instant contributors — Damarea Crockett, Cale Garrett, and Christian Holmes, to name three — while others had to make detours for various reasons. Odom aimed for larger classes knowing that Missouri had to recover from the attrition suffered from those 2012 and 2013 classes, as well as insurance against the future.

So while Missouri may only be able to take six more pledges at the moment, they might push it to the limit and add up to 15.

Using that range as a jumping off point, let’s review the current class and where the Tigers could add further depth.

Quarterback: 1 commit/1 likely need

  • Committed: James Foster (6’2, 210, 3-star)

Missouri is likely done recruiting the quarterback position, as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel has made it clear he wants to take one QB per class. Foster is a solid addition who looks like he could develop into a James Franklin-like quarterback.

Running back: 1/2

  • Committed: Jalen Knox (6’0, 180, 3-star)
  • Primary Targets: Devin Brumfield (5’10, 200)

I have Jalen Knox listed as a running back here because he played in the backfield in high school and looks the most comfortable in that role. It’s likely he’ll end up playing a variety of roles in college so Missouri could be looking to add another more traditional-style running back like Devin Brumfield from Louisiana.

Wide receiver: 3/5

  • Committed: Danny Gray (6’1, 175, 3-star), Kam Scott (6’1, 158, 3-star), Harry Ballard (6’2, 180, 3-star)
  • Primary targets: Kamryn Babb (6’1, 175, 4-star), Cameron Brown (6’1, 175, 4-star)

Missouri is looking load up at the receiver position for Heupel’s high-octane offense, one that requires multiple threats all over the field. Having a fleet of receivers helps ensure the Tigers don’t run into the same issues they suffered in 2015.

Tiger Top 10 target Cameron Brown has decommitted from Nebraska, and his high school teammate Kamryn Babb is still considered an Ohio State lean. Landing one of the two would be an accomplishment, but it’s technically still possible that Mizzou could land five recruits named either Kam or Cam. (Another receiver named Cam Jones is still an option as well.)

Tight End: 0/0

  • Committed: none
  • Primary Targets: ???

Normally I’m of the opinion that teams should take a tight end every cycle much like they would a quarterback. It’s possible that Joe Jon Finley adds another one in this class, but the initial wave of offers seems to have not born any fruit, and with Albert Okwuegbunam, Brendan Scales and Logan Christopherson already on board, I could see the Tigers passing on one this year.

The top names appear to be local prospects like Lee’s Summit North’s Elijah Farr, Illinois’ Luke Ford, Blue Springs South’s Brody Parker (who attended Missouri’s Junior Day), or Camdenton’s Grant Norton, who showcased his move to TE while in Columbia for the Night at the Zou.

Offensive Line: 0/4

  • Committed: none
  • Primary Targets: Mike Ruth (6’7, 310, 3-star), Adonis Boone (6’5, 275, 3-star), Marcus ‘Tank’ Jenkins (6’4, 325, 4-star), Jerome Carvin (6’5, 310, 3-star)

That old maxim, Always Be ‘Crootin’, should come with a sub-header: “...Offensive Linemen.”

You can never have enough big-bodied athletes in the trenches. Missouri only stands to lose three lineman (one projected starter) after the 2017 season and will graduate four next year (two starters).

Offensive line coach Glen Elarbee did a skillful job turning the position group around and added seven commits to bolster the ranks. If they continue to average four per class, the Tigers should be in good shape. More than that might require a reach, as a few of their reported top targets — Curtis Dunlap, Verdis Brown, Victor Curne — have pledged elsewhere.

Defensive Tackle: 0/3

  • Committed: none
  • Primary Targets: Trevor Trout (6’3, 295, 4-star), Michael Thompson (6’4, 291, 4-star), Alfred Thomas (6’1, 268, 4-star)

New defensive line coach Brick Haley got a massive influx to the defensive line unit — eight newcomers in the past year — to fix a tackle position that became troubled since the departure of Craig Kuligowski.

Purely on numbers, the Tigers appear set for the next few years, but fans are acutely aware how important it is to have disruptive playmakers all along the defensive line. If Haley can secure commitments from Michael Thompson, Trevor Trout and perhaps an out of state prospect like Alfred Thomas, then the Tigers can expect a return to form.

Defensive End: 0/2

  • Committed: none
  • Primary Targets: Ronnie Perkins (6’4, 260, 4-star), Daniel Parker Jr. (6’4, 245, 3-star), Madison Norris (6’5, 200, 3-star)

Marcell Frazier and incoming JUCO transfer Nate Anderson should ensure that the prestige of #DLineZou has decent talent in the pipeline. But it has always operated best when there were bookend pass rushers able to complement each other. Missouri is still waiting on Ronnie Perkins, the younger brother of starting safety Ronnell Perkins, to decide. That may suffice, but one-time commit Daniel Parker Jr. could be a welcome boon, even if some seem to think he’s destined for the offensive line.

Linebacker: 2/3

  • Committed: Cameron Wilkins (6’2, 235, 3-star), Chad Bailey (6’0, 235, 4-star)
  • Primary Targets: La’Dedrick Jackson (6’2, 200, 3-star), Cam Jones (6’3, 205, 3-star)

Those in charge of Missouri’s linebacker corps, be it DeMontie Cross, Brian or Barry Odom, had to feel good about the addition of two strong prospects from the Night at the Zou event.

The coaching staff wanted to land Cameron Wilkins and Chad Bailey and were able to get them before the season even started. The Tigers will graduate Eric Beisel and Joey Burkett this year, and then five more next year, which means a youth movement is in store.

Defensive back: 3/5

  • Committed: Tyrone Collins (5’11, 165, 3-star), Vincent Gray (6’2, 180, 3-star), Cam Taylor (5’11, 194, 3-star)
  • Primary Targets: Dallas Craddieth (6’1, 180, 3-star), JaKorey Hawkins (5’11, 188 3-star), Shocky Jacques-Louis (6’0, 170, 3-star)

Ryan Walters has taken over coaching the entire secondary, grouping the cornerbacks and safeties under one umbrella so the numbers for these groups may be especially fungible, as evidenced by how many current players we’ve seen make multiple position changes in the past two years.

The number of additions to the secondary is only rivaled by that of the offensive and defensive line, an acknowledgement of the need for better and deeper competition. Adding another talented player to both corner and safety wouldn’t be a surprise.

That makes this group the best one to end on since it reinforces the fact this is all largely based on guesstimation. Whether the 2018 recruiting class ends up with 16, 22, or the full monty depends largely on who steps up this fall.

For good measure, I used 247sports’ class calculator to project where a full class with these names would rank. Based on last year’s distribution of classes and points, if the Tigers landed all or almost all of the recruits on this page, they would most likely end up with a top-20 recruiting class.