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Recruiting momentum is real, but the challenge will be continuing it into 2021

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Eli Drinkwitz celebrates the commitment of Ennis Rakestraw.
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Mizzou Football and recruiting wins don’t often go hand in hand. Sure, when you sign 20-25 guys a class a few of them are likely to be seen differently than the rest. Regardless of who commits to Mizzou, fans will always talk themselves into the tape and even the lowest ranked players will get projected to be the next Sean Weatherspoon, Michael Sam, or Charles Harris.

But we got accustomed to moderate recruiting success and hoping the development would outpace the rankings and keep the program rolling. Despite some bumps along the way, the recipe seemed to work. After Mizzou’s move to the SEC, Gary Pinkel tried to move the recruiting footprint and the roster got a little hollowed out. And Barry Odom struggled to gain traction, and though his recruiting improved each year, it never quite got to the point of Eli Drinkwitz 2021 class.

So yesterday, when an out of state four star Defensive End chose Mizzou over Minnesota and Florida State, it felt almost common or expected. How quickly one adjusts to success.

But Kyran Montgomery is a big recruiting win. He’s a Rivals top 250 player at a significant position of need, and joins Travion Ford (another Rivals top 250 player) in the class at Defensive End.

For reference, Missouri had signed just one Rivals top 250 player since the 2016 class (OLB Chad Bailey in the 2018 class) and in this class there are two, the most since 2015 which featured Drew Lock, Terry Beckner Jr, and Natereace Strong. Other top 250 guys in Missouri’s past, names like Dorial Green-Beckham, Evan Boehm, Sheldon Richardson... quite a few guys who have had a real impact on the program.

NCAA Football: Missouri Pro Day Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

And it’s not just Montgomery, Mizzou has four 5.8 4-stars already signed up in the class. With the aforementioned Ford, along with East St. Louis Quarterback Tyler Macon and Indianapolis Cornerback Daylan Carnell all leading the class. Then there are four 5.7 three stars and four more 5.6 3-stars.

Basically, this class is going as well as any recruiting class has gone for Missouri in years as the class is ranked 19th in the country currently. What has Mizzou done in the recent past?

  • 2020: 54th — 17 signees, 0 5-stars, 0 4-stars
  • 2019: 34th — 22 signees, 0 5-stars, 1 4-star
  • 2018: 39th — 26 signees, 0 5-stars, 2 4-stars
  • 2017: 49th — 25 signees, 0 5-stars, 1 4-star
  • 2016: 47th — 22 signees, 0 5-stars, 3 4-stars
  • 2015: 27th — 25 signees, 0 5-stars, 6 4-stars
  • 2014: 34th — 28 signees, 0 5-stars, 2 4-stars
  • 2013: 41st — 21 signees, 0 5-stars, 1 4-star
  • 2012: 31st — 19 signees, 1 5-star, 1 4-star
  • 2011: 48th — 17 signees, 0 5-stars, 1 4-star

So while landing 5-star players is a little out of the norm, just every class except for the 2020 class had at least one other four star. But only one class had as many as the 2021 class has currently.

If there’s one thing that feels different and it’s Drinkwitz. For all the great things PInkel did for the program, he wasn’t loaded with the excitement and charisma that seems to emanate when you listen to Drinkwitz. Odom had a little more energy, but everything that Drinkwitz has done right throughout the 2021 recruiting class, including his press conferences and how he’s spoken about supporting his players through this past offseason.

The one key in this is he’s going to have to find a way to carry the momentum and excitement he’s cultivated through a very difficult offseason, and build a class that is as good as his first class in 2022.

With a daunting SEC only schedule ahead of him, one looking to take some wind out of the sails of recruiting wins, Drinkwitz and his staff are going to start stacking recruiting classes. In the SEC, Mizzou is working at a deficit that only effort and focus can overcome. The facilities are good, but in comparison to the rest of the league, they’re well behind. But if Drink and his staff can get through this season and surprise a few people by winning more than they’re expected, they can ride the momentum of a great recruiting class and continue to get the kind of talent which can build a program.

Be excited about this class. Drinkwitz and his staff have answered the bell. Let’s just see if they can continue to momentum and excitement into the next class and beyond.