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Recruiting Reset: Mizzou kicks off its 2023 class with a blue chip in-state commit

The Tigers got one heck of a player to start off their 2023 recruiting class.

Recruiting never stops, ladies and gentlemen. Eli Drinkwitz and his coaching staff will put together many of the finishing touches on the 2022 recruiting class in the next few weeks, but they’re also getting an early start on 2023.

The Tigers landed their first commit of the 2023 class over the weekend in the form of 4-star tight end Brett Norfleet. Norfleet is a blue chip recruit in every sense of the word. Rivals rates him as the 12th best tight end nationally, the seventh best player in the state of Missouri for the 2023 recruiting class and the 222nd best player in the country.

Not too shabby.

Commits like Norfleet have been few and far between in recent years. There were 28 in-state players ranked among the “Rivals250” in their respective recruiting classes from 2016-2021.

Jalani Williams was the only recruit among those 28 in-state players ranked among the top 250 players nationally to commit to the Tigers.

That’s a trend that had to change, and it has under Drinkwitz. Missouri had five players ranked in the Rivals250 in the 2022 class. Two of them (Isaac Thompson and Marquis Gracial) have committed to the Tigers.

In other words, Drinkwitz has more in-state commits ranked in the top 250 nationally in the 2022 class than Barry Odom had in his entire tenure as the Missouri football coach.

Talent matters, and the Tigers are adding a whole lot more of it to the roster. Most of that talent is coming locally, and that’s by design. Drinkwitz has made it a priority from the day he stepped on campus to recruit local players harder than anyone else can. The rewards don’t always show up immediately, but we’re starting to see what it looks like when Missouri has an elite recruiter focused on keeping the local talent, local.

Norfleet is a continuation of this trend. He is one of seven players from the state of Missouri ranked among the top 250 players in the country by Rivals for the 2023 class. One down, hopefully a few more to go.

Where he fits: Norfleet is a really interesting prospect. High profile tight end prospects tend to be glorified receivers. That’s not Norfleet. He’s an impact player as an in-line blocker. Don’t believe me? Watch for yourself.

Norfleet is a MASSIVE human being. He’s listed at 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds. He just finished his junior football season. He’s going to be able to add quite a bit of bulk to his frame in the next couple years. He’s more similar to Daniel Parker Jr. than Albert Okwuegbunam stylistically.

Norfleet will join an increasingly talented group of tight ends when he arrives on campus. It also happens to be a room with a whole lot of in-state talent. Niko Hea has developed into a really solid player. Ryan Hoerstkamp was one of the more intriguing players in last year’s recruiting class, and he could see the field as early as the 2022 season. The Tigers’ first commit in the 2022 class was Lee’s Summit product Max Whisner. If there’s a theme with all of the recent additions, it’s size. The Tigers seem to be looking for versatile players who legitimately contribute in the running game as dynamic blockers. Norfleet, Hoerstkamp and Whisner each fit into that criteria.

When he’ll play: It’s hard to say. His playing style could help his case. Norfleet doesn’t look like the most dynamic athlete, but he’s going to win with his size and strength - both in the running game and through the air. Daniel Parker Jr., Messiah Swinson and Niko Hea could all be gone by the time Norfleet arrives on campus. That would leave Hoerstkamp, Whisner and Gavin McKay as the three tight ends he would be competing with for playing time, barring a transfer.

Hoerstkamp has 15 totals naps this season. McKay has yet to see the field. Whisner isn’t on campus yet. Sizing up that competition is an impossible task.

Setting aside the competition, Norfleet should see the field early. He’s a blue chip talent for a reason. He blocks his tail off and he’s likely to add even more size and strength in the 18 months prior to competing for playing time.

What it all means: Norfleet is the first Tigers commit for the 2023 class. He’s the 13th four or five-star recruit to commit to Eli Drinkwitz and this Tigers coaching staff. Drinkwitz promised he would make in-state recruiting a priority, and now we’re seeing what that looks like.

Recruiting is a whole lot of fun to follow when the in-state kids give Mizzou more than a courtesy look.