When I heard on Monday that Missouri landed a commitment from another defensive lineman, I was excited. When I saw it was from a gentleman by the name of Jae’Vien Gill, I must admit, I didn’t recognize the name.
The research began in earnest. Gill is a third year player at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. His recruitment has gone through a number of twists and turns. He’s spent varying amounts of time committed to Troy, Tulane and UCF. He actually stuck to his commitment and made it to UCF’s campus for spring ball, but decided to transfer back to Mississippi Gulf Coast CC in May.
It’s been an eventful year, to say the least.
That winding road has led Gill to Missouri. The Tigers officially offered him this week and he pounced on the chance to play in the SEC. Gill’s other main offers come from USF and Coastal Carolina.
Gill is the Tigers’ first 2-star recruit in the 2022 class. Where does he fit? What does he add to the roster for next year? Let’s break it down.
Where he fits: I have to be honest with you guys, I’m really not sure. He has some similarities in playing style to Missouri commit Jalen Marshall. Both Marshall and Gill have the versatility to play inside and out, but Marshall is the type of player who will likely project to play along the interior. He’s also three years younger. It’s hard to know how Gill’s body will change when he gets to Missouri, but he currently fits the profile of a “tweener.” He’s probably not big enough to consistently play inside, and I’m not sure he has the quick twitch to play on the edge.
Where does that leave him? I’m not sure. My guess is he’ll get his first opportunities outside. Maybe they view him as a potential replacement for the Akial Byers role in which he’ll play both inside and out. He’s a difficult projection.
When he’ll play: I would assume right away? You don’t bring in junior college players without a plan to get them on the field, especially players who spent three years at the JUCO ranks. So, my guess is he’ll see immediate playing time. But I assumed the same would be true for Daniel Robledo and Ben Key, and neither have seen much playing time thus far in their tenures at Mizzou.
If the “fit” isn’t clean, the spot on the depth chart is even more unclear. Trajan Jeffcoat, Cannon York, Jatorian Hansford, Isaiah McGuire, Daniel Robledo, Johnny Walker Jr., Travion Ford, Jonathan Jones, Arden Walker and Kyran Montgomery each have eligibility to return next season. The Tigers have already added Marshall as a similar piece in the 2023 class. Where does Gill fit into that crowded mix at defensive end? Your guess is as good as mine. Jeffcoat, McGuire and Hansford, in particular, have really taken their games to another level this season. Walker has given reasons for optimism. Montgomery was in line for playing time before his season-ending knee injury.
Maybe Gill comes in and dominates and carves out a role right away. I’ll be rooting for him to do exactly that. But, based on the limited film available, it’s hard for me to project such a rise up the depth chart.
What it all means: That I’ll be rooting for Gill. He’s an underdog story in many ways. Under-recruited out of high school, three years at junior college. He’s taken a difficult path to earning a chance to play football at an SEC program. But, the signing leaves me with more questions than answers. Defensive end doesn’t at first glance appear to be a position in need of immediate depth. In fact, it’s one of the deeper positions on the roster. Heck, even defensive tackle isn’t exactly lacking for depth with Darius Robinson, Mekhi Wingo, Marquise Gracial and Realus George in the mix and Marshall on the way.
I hope this all ends up looking silly six months from now. I hope Gill becomes the next great Mizzou two star who we all celebrate 10 years from now. But, for now, it’s fair to consider this to be one of the more surprising additions to the roster in the Drinkwitz era. We’ll see how it all shakes out.