There is an art to the scholarship numbers game, especially at the more high-volume positions — receiver, offensive line, linebacker, etc. You are recruiting for two or three years out, and if you don’t do a proper job, or if you suffer some attrition, it’ll take you a couple of years to get things back in order.
The Mizzou receiving corps, of course, is the ultimate example. After years of cycling through stars, Gary Pinkel and his staff found themselves playing with fire a few years ago. Thanks to the early dismissal of players like Dorial Green-Beckham and Levi Copelin, the Tigers found themselves replacing all three WR starters (DGB, L’Damian Washington, and Marcus Lucas) after 2013 ... and then again after 2014, following the loss of Bud Sasser, Jimmie Hunt, and Darius White.
This double-dip turnover was disastrous. Mizzou entered 2015 with a starting lineup of sophomores J’Mon Moore and Nate Brown, and senior Wes Leftwich. Combined career catches: 10.
Moore would eventually develop into a draft-caliber wideout, and Brown still has a little bit more time to live up to his four-star rating, but Mizzou went from having an incredible receiving corps in 2013 to a good one in 2014 to the worst one in the SEC in 2015. Combine that with a true freshman quarterback and an offensive line that was also dealing with repercussions of recent recruiting failures, and you’ve got a formula for the worst Mizzou offensive in a generation.
Two years later, the numbers were finally starting to balance out again. Moore, Emanuel Hall, and Johnathon Johnson combined for 139 catches, 2,623 yards, and 24 touchdowns last year, and backup Richaud Floyd had 14, 170, and two, respectively. Moore’s a Green Bay Packer now, but the other three return, giving Mizzou lovely continuity for 2018.
The faucet has to remain on, however. Mizzou will lose Hall and Brown after 2018 and Johnson and Floyd after 2019. Barry Odom signed five freshman receivers, plus Oregon grad transfer Alex Ofodile (a junior) and JUCO transfer Harry Ballard III (a sophomore) in this past recruiting class, but based on need and the number of offers so far — per 247, Mizzou has offered 33 WRs — suggest he wants at least another two in this class, and possibly as many as three or four.
Let’s see what we can learn about these offers.
- Likely number of signees: 3-4
- 2018 depth chart (approximate): Emanuel Hall (Sr.), Johnathon Johnson (Jr.), Nate Brown (Sr.), Richaud Floyd (Jr.), Harry Ballard III (So.), Dominic Gicinto (Fr.), Alex Ofodile (Jr.), Justin Smith (Jr.)
- 2019 depth chart: Johnson (Sr.), Floyd (Sr.), Ballard (Jr.), Gicinto (So.), Ofodile (Sr.), Smith (Sr.), Kam Scott (RSFr.), Jalen Knox (RSFr.), Danny Gray (RSFr.), Khmari Thompson (RSFr.)
- 2020 depth chart: Ballard (Sr.), Gicinto (Jr.), Scott (So.), Knox (So.), Gray (So.), Thompson (So.)
- 2019 commits: Shamar Nash (6’2, 190, 4-star prospect from IMG Academy via Memphis)
Thanks in part to the addition of Ballard and Ofodile, the classes are pretty nicely balanced here. I do figure at least one true freshman finds the rotation this fall, and since Gicinto was in for spring, I’ll go ahead and designate him as the guy who plays. It could be any of them, and it might be more than one. Either way, not much will be asked of 2019’s WR recruits for a couple of years. If one breaks through immediately, awesome.
Shamar Nash is still committed, technically
Nash was Mizzou’s first 2019 commitment, securing his reservation back in February. He has no historic ties to Mizzou, and every interview he’s given since his commitment makes it seem like MU and Arkansas are basically tied atop his list, but for now, he’s still technically aboard. And that’s good because, well, he’s good.
Looking for wideouts, not slots
With Johnson and Floyd, Mizzou is set at slot receiver for a couple of years, and freshmen like Gicinto, Kam Scott, and/or Jalen Knox could easily fit in that role in the future. So as whole, Odom seems to be aiming for some bigger guys to line up wide. Of the 33 known WR offers, prospects’ median size is 6’2, 185 pounds — not exactly DGB, Lucas, and Washington, but not Johnson and Floyd either. Nash is 6’2, 190, and a key in-stater is within that range, too. There are a few smaller receivers on the table, including St. John Vianney’s Kyren Williams (5’10, 200) and Cardinal Ritter’s Cameron Coleman (5’10, 184)
The most high-profile recruit on Mizzou’s recruiting board is St. Louis Trinity Catholic blue-chipper Marcus Washington, a 6’2, 193-pounder and the No. 59 prospect in the country, per the 247Sports Composite. Mizzou recently made Washington’s top six, but as seems to always be the case with good STL WRs, Ohio State appears to be in good position to secure his services. Mizzou still has a shot, though. Plus, Coleman is a four-star prospect, and Williams is a fast rising high-three.
My goal with these position-by-position pieces is to stay pretty vague about specific recruits since we know how the typical Mizzou recruiting cycle tends to work — the big names on the board early on are not the ones we end up reading and writing about on signing day.
But obviously Mizzou could use a good break or two in St. Louis; last year was an abysmal year in that regard. And landing either or both of these four-stars — or at least three-star CJ Boone of Parkway North — would be a nice start.
Texas produces receiver talent
Of Mizzou’s 33 known receiver offers, 13 hail from the state of Texas, with four more from Missouri, four from Florida, and three from Tennessee. That pretty adequately describes Barry Odom’s Texas-leaning recruiting philosophy.
Now, a lot of these 13 guys are blue-chippers who have either committed elsewhere or don’t have Mizzou high on the list. But one name to continue keeping an eye on is North Richland Hills wideout Rashee Rice, a 6’2, 177-pounder and mid-three-star prospect. He told PowerMizzou about having a strong relationship with receivers coach A.J. Ofodile back in March.
Until Washington chooses Ohio State or anyone other than Mizzou, he remains an obvious choice for the best-case scenario list. Based on both talent and improved perceptions, we’ll say the best-case for a four-man receiver haul would be retaining Nash and adding Washington, Coleman, and Rice. That could change, like, tomorrow. We’ll see.