College football recruiting has become a complicated ordeal. There are two National Signing Days, but the signing day coming up in a few weeks is the one coaches care about. If a commit is not willing to sign now, what are they waiting for? That spot might not be as secure a month from now.
It goes beyond that, of course. The classes are all messed up because everyone was granted an extra year of eligibility for the Covid season. There’s a new rule in which a team can add as many transfers as it loses to the portal (with a limit of seven additions), but there is some fine print to that rule we don’t need to get into here. There’s greenshirting and grayshirting and redshirting and frankly it’s all rather complicated.
What’s important is this: Eli Drinkwitz is not afraid to add talent in any way possible. The Tigers followed up the 20th ranked recruiting class nationally last season with multiple high-profile transfers and some under-the-radar additions which proved to be important down the stretch. The Tigers’ 2022 class is currently rated 17th nationally with 15 total commitments. There’s no doubt Drinkwitz will look to the transfer portal in the coming days and weeks to supplement the roster with additional talent.
Where will he look to add? And which players currently in the portal could be a fit? Let’s go inside the portal.
Let’s stat with a harsh reality: the transfer portal isn’t all its cracked up to be. Teams can add meaningful talent, don’t get me wrong. But, typically, the top-end players end up in places where they have long-lasting relations. Maybe it’s their home-state school. It could be a coach who recruited them at their former school who ended up elsewhere who recruits the player to join them. It’s rare you see a power five player transfer to a school with no ties to the region or the coaching staff. You’ll see that at times when a player transfers “up” from the group of five or FCS to the power five. It’s not often you see it from one power five team to another.
That’s important to keep in mind as we come up with this list of players who could make sense for the Tigers. Would it be cool to see former LSU cornerback Eli Ricks at Mizzou? Of course. But what’s the tie? He’s from California, went to IMG Academy in Florida and his final top five in his recruitment included LSU, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State and Auburn. That doesn’t sound like someone with obvious ties to Missouri. Maybe that changes, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Alright, enough of the disclaimers. Let’s get to the players who I think Missouri could realistically look to add via the transfer portal:
Running Back: Jahmyr Gibbs (Georgia Tech), Zach Evans (TCU) & Tiyon Evans (Tennessee)
Missouri offered Jahmyr Gibbs, Zach Evans and Tiyon Evans when they were recruits, so they’re all at lest somewhat familiar with the program. Each of them offers a game-changing presence in the backfield the Tigers lack with Tyler Badie expected to leave for the NFL.
Gibbs had a breakout season this year for Georgia Tech, racking up nearly 750 yards on the ground, added another 465 through the air and finished the season third nationally in all-purpose yards. Gibbs might be the best overall player in the portal, and it’s difficult to imagine him choosing the Tigers, but Mizzou can make a strong pitch of using him the way it used Badie. Gibbs’ recruitment is one worth monitoring, even if it seems unlikely to end with him in Columbia.
Zach Evans might seem like a long shot at first glance. The former 5-star recruit from the Houston area had an, umm, interesting recruitment. The Tigers actually got involved late in the process and he called Mizzou a “childhood favorite.” It never appeared as if Missouri was much of an option for Evans, and he eventually landed at TCU. He had an impact right away. In his two years on campus he posted 146 carries for more than 1,000 yards and 10 total touchdowns. It’s hard to say where this one will go - his last recruitment had as many twists and turns as any you’ll follow - but he would be quite the add to the backfield if he still views the Tigers as a favorite, for whatever reason.
Former Tennessee running back Tiyon Evans is another player worth watching. Evans was one of the top junior college running backs in the country last year before he committed to Tennessee. The Tigers were involved in his recruitment late, and he’s no stranger to the area having attended Hutchinson Community College. Evans should have at least one and possibly two years of eligibility remaining. He feels the most likely of the three to end up at Mizzou, but don’t rule out a return closer to home in South Carolina.
Linebacker: Antonio Doyle (Texas A&M)
If there’s one player I feel confident the Tigers could add in the portal, it’s Antonio Doyle. The former 4-star linebacker out of St. Louis was in the same class as Mookie Cooper, Missouri’s headliner from the transfer portal last year.
Doyle has the talent to come in and play right away, but it’s unknown exactly where that would take place. He started his career at Texas A&M playing linebacker but kicked down to defensive end this season before deciding to transfer. The good news for Missouri is the Tigers could use an influx of talent at both positions, and could conceivably try Doyle at either spot.
Mizzou’s defense stepped up in a big way when it installed Chad Bailey and Blaze Alldredge as its starting linebackers. Bailey is expected back next season, but Alldredge is out of eligibility. Could Doyle replace some of what Alldredge was able to bring to the defense? It’s very possible. I wouldn’t mind finding out.
Cornerback: Marcus Banks (Alabama)
Alright, I’m going to be honest, this is a break from my rules. Banks doesn’t have an obvious connection to Mizzou other than the fact that he’s from Houston and the Tigers recruit that area heavily. This would be a pure talent play. Banks was a 4-star recruit in the 2019 class, but he’s hardly seen the field at Alabama. That could mean he was overvalued as a recruit, or it might mean he plays for Alabama, and, well, sometimes that happens when you’re behind a bunch of future NFL players.
How likely is it? Not very. But it’s at least worthy of a mention.