When Mizzou offered and signed Damarea Crockett late in the 2016 recruiting cycle, we thought it might signal a sea change of sorts. New head coach Barry Odom also pursued Arkansas commit and Columbia product Hayden Johnson, a fullback, pretty hard as well, and while that didn’t work out, it appeared to be a sign that Odom wanted more size in his offensive backfield.
The next year, Odom signed a pair of reasonably diverse backs in the physical Larry Rountree III (currently listed at 5’10, 210) and the speedier Isaiah Miller, who bulked up to 5’11, 200 in his redshirt year. He signed two more backs in the 2018 cycle: 6’0, 185-pound Simi Bakare and 5’10, 185-pound Tyler Badie.
Rountree aside, Missouri seems to be slowly inching back toward recruiting the type of back we saw during the Gary Pinkel years, guys who show up at 5’10 and around 180 pounds and finish their career around 200 or slightly bigger. And hey, nothing wrong with that — the Tigers won tons of games with guys like Tony Temple, Henry Josey, and Marcus Murphy (and Russell Hansbrough, and Kendial Lawrence, and De’Vion Moore, and...) in the backfield.
Let’s take a look at running back recruiting for the class of 2019.
- Likely number of signees: 0-2
- 2018 depth chart (approximate): Damarea Crockett (Jr.), Larry Rountree III (So.), Dawson Downing (So., no known scholarship), Isaiah Miller (RSFr.), Simi Bakare (Fr.), Tyler Badie (Fr.)
- 2019 depth chart: Crockett (Sr.), Rountree (Jr.), Downing (Jr.), Miller (So.), Bakare (RSFr.), Badie (RSFr.)
- 2020 depth chart: Rountree (Sr.), Downing (Sr.), Miller (Jr.), Bakare (So.), Badie (So.)
With six backs scheduled to return in 2019 (five if Crockett explodes and goes pro ... and seven if 2018 signee Jalen Knox ends up at RB instead of WR) and five to six in 2020, this didn’t forecast as a big year for RB recruiting. If Odom’s talent evaluation system continues to strike gold, as it did with Crockett and Rountree, then Mizzou’s set at RB for the foreseeable future.
The number of offers Mizzou has sent out, however, suggests that Odom plans to sign at least one back, maybe two. That’s a little odd to me, but perhaps there’s a little bit of Crockett Going Pro insurance built in there.
Confusing or not, though, Mizzou appears to be in the running for a few exciting options.
1. What kind of back is Mizzou recruiting?
Per the 247Sports Composite, Mizzou has offered 18 running backs in 2019. The average and median size: right around 5’11, 193. Eight of the backs are at least 6’0, and only five are listed above 200 pounds. Again, that’s not that far from the neighborhood Pinkel spent most of his RB recruiting time in.
2. Who is Mizzou recruiting?
Of the 18 players with reported offers, only two have committed anywhere, which means the pool’s pretty wide open. There’s Rock Bridge star Nate Peat, who got a super-early Mizzou offer, then exploded for 1,500+ yards last fall. A mid-three-star prospect, he boasts offers from the all the usual suspects in the Midwest — Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Minnesota, Northwestern, etc. — and it appears Mizzou should have a solid chance. He was at Mizzou’s junior day and has visited campus many times.
His highlight film, by the way: *kisses fingertips like a chef*
There’s mid-three-star Texas prospect Justin Dinka, who hasn’t updated his favorites in a while but listed Mizzou in his top four back in the winter months.
(Both Dinka and Peat are right in that 5’10, 185-pound sweet spot.)
There’s high-three-star running back and linebacker prospect Jaren Mangham, who listed Mizzou among his top 16 (lol) in mid-April. At 6’1, 212 pounds, he’s a bigger dude than most (which is why he could end up at LB).
And then there’s a big pool of other guys, mostly with similar attributes.
Again, this is a crowded depth chart moving forward, and that might scare some prospects off. But there do seem to be pretty good odds of landing at least one more back in the Josey mold. Adding Peat and calling it a day is my own personal preference, but we’ll see how it plays out.