Note: This post originally went up a month ago, and naturally a lot has changed in a short amount of time. So let’s revisit.
Now that we’ve laid out the balance of positions Missouri could or should pursue with its 2019 recruiting class, I figured we could use that as a springboard to go position by position and talk about needs, targets, etc., in the coming weeks.
We start, as always, with the most important position on the field.
- 2018 depth chart (approximate): Drew Lock (Sr.), Micah Wilson (So.), Jack Lowary (Jr.), Taylor Powell (RSFr.), Lindsey Scott Jr. (So.)
- 2019 depth chart: Micah Wilson (Jr.), Jack Lowary (Sr.), Taylor Powell (So.), Lindsey Scott Jr. (Jr.)
- 2020 depth chart: Micah Wilson (Sr.), Taylor Powell (Jr.), Lindsey Scott Jr. (Sr.)
Mizzou enters 2018 with a weird sort of streak:
This will be the 7th straight year that Missouri has had a returning QB with at least four career starts.— Matt Smith (@MattSmithCFB) May 15, 2018
- Incumbent James Franklin returned in 2012 and 2013.
- Maty Mauk started for an injured Franklin for a month in 2013 and therefore had some experience heading into 2014, then returned (briefly) for 2015.
- Drew Lock took over for the beleaguered Mauk a few games into 2015 and returned for 2016, 2017, and now 2018.
Knock on wood, of course, but barring injury, this seven-year streak will end next year. Lock will graduate after this fall and could go quite high in the 2019 NFL draft. So (again, barring injury, and there is not enough wood in the world to knock on in discussing this) Mizzou is obviously set for 2018.
But next spring will see quite the battle royale, as at least four guys will fight to replace Lock. Obviously there could be some attrition either before or after next spring (if it’s not before, I would definitely expect some after), but I do enjoy that the four competitors for 2019 come in all different shapes, sizes, and skill sets. You’ve got the athletic current No. 2 man, Micah Wilson. You’ve got the big-armed Jack Lowary. And you’ve got two ‘gritty winner’ types in Taylor Powell and Lindsey Scott Jr., who are each a little on either the skinnier (Powell) or shorter (Scott) sides but have shown leadership ability at different levels.
There’s still time for one more potential entry into the competition, however.
Technically, if Mizzou has four QBs on the roster for 2019, then QB isn’t a grave necessity for this recruiting class, at least from a numbers perspective. But considering you absolutely need a pretty good one to win games, you can never have enough QBs. Coaches tend to like having at least one in every class.
Mizzou has already missed out on two local targets.
Per the 247Sports Composite, the top prospect in the state this year is St. Louis Trinity Catholic’s Isaiah Williams. Illinois head coach Lovie Smith made a pretty crafty move by hiring Trinity’s head coach, Cory Patterson, as his tight ends coach. That reaped almost immediate dividends when Williams committed to UI in late March.
(If there’s anything Mizzou fans should be able to respect right now, it’s hiring an assistant to help grab what you hope is a program-changing player.)
Now, as we well know, a lot can change between April and National Signing Day. If Illinois has a miserable season on the football field — certainly conceivable — recruiters will be in Williams’ ear, reminding him that neither Smith nor Patterson will likely be employed at UI very long. No commitment is 100 percent solid eight months before signing day; otherwise, James Foster would be a Tiger and not an Aggie, right?
Williams is certainly firm for now, though. Graham Mertz? Less so. The Blue Valley North quarterback — a four-star prospect and a top-10 pro-style QB for this class — committed to Wisconsin back in October. He hasn’t completely shut down his recruiting, and it’s been pretty evident that Missouri isn’t giving up on landing him just yet. But it appears Notre Dame might be in line ahead of the Tigers should Mertz eventually open things back up.
Mizzou might not be completely out of it when it comes to these two prospects, but there’s no point in holding out hope at the moment. Check back in a few months.
For a while this spring, it appeared Mizzou might be making up ground with Michigan three-star prospect Sam Johnson. The Tigers made his top five in late-April after offering earlier in the month, but last week he committed to a team that had been on him for much longer: Boston College.
Recruiting happens in waves, though. As prospects start showing up in various camps from April through about June, new names and offers emerge, and new players see their respective recruitments catch fire.
Mizzou’s latest efforts seem to be focusing on two recent risers from the state of Georgia: Zach Calzada and Justin Fomby.
Just received my first SEC offer from Missouri‼️ pic.twitter.com/xKCM3DRhon— Zach Calzada (@ZachCalzada) May 9, 2018
Thankful to recieve an offer from The University Of Missouri #MIZ #ShowMe #GodDidIt @AUSTYNCS_6 @MUcoachAO @coachTWoff @CGblackknights @Mansell247 @ChadSimmons_ @RecruitGeorgia pic.twitter.com/Zjtqwq1Fgk— Justin Fomby (@JIFomby) May 2, 2018
“I was 5’10” a little over a year ago, the 6’2.5, 195-pound Calzada said. His dad confirmed, he’s had a huge growth spurt. [...]
Quarterbacks no longer have to be 6’5, but 5’10 is short. It makes sense that many haven’t heard of Calzada. With his late growth spurt came arm strength, and Calzada rips the ball. He can also grip it with 10-inch hands.
Schools have very recently started to take notice. [...]
Visits are on hold until after spring, and Calzada wants to make sure he is making the right decision. But he is also cognizant that schools want to get their QBs committed early.
“As soon as I find a place I love, I’ll take it,” he said. “QB spots go quickly.”
From a recruiting perspective, it probably didn’t help that Calzada started slowly in 2017, his first year as first-stringer at Sugar Hill (Ga.) Lanier High. Through four games, he had completed just 43 percent of his passes with a horrendous 97.0 passer rating (per the college formula). Over his final seven games, he raised those numbers to 57 percent and 148.6, respectively, and Sugar Hill’s scoring average went from 14.5 points per game to 24.1.
Calzada’s highlight film shows exactly why he might do well in a camp setting: he’s got a rifle and a tight spiral. The ball gets to where it’s going awfully quickly. Thanks to the growth spurt and mid-season improvement, options are opening up. He has quickly moved from unrated to a mid-three-star designation, and he could continue to rise with better camp showings. Mizzou got on board reasonably early, offering last week, but there will be a lot of schools jockeying for position.
Fomby, meanwhile, has been an even later arrival, at least by a week or two. The recent MVP of Rivals’ Nashville camp still only carries one power-conference offer: Mizzou’s. But knowing how these camps (and the reactions to the camps) work, that probably won’t remain the case for long.
His highlight film certainly backs up the camp performances.
With the requisite “I know nothing about the competition level here” disclaimer, I see a QB with excellent footwork and a smooth delivery. (In a couple of the passes, he has a bit of a hitch and slow delivery, but only in a couple.) No idea how he doesn’t have more offers already, but they’ll come. And we’ll see if Mizzou’s presence as the first in line helps with his recruitment.
Perhaps other recruits will emerge as the quarterback dominoes begin to tumble, but for now, it’s hard to figure out what Mizzou’s next choice would be if the school can’t stay on the radar for one of these two exciting late-risers.