Missouri has a number of exciting talents at the cornerback position. Ennis Rakestraw should be back at full strength by next fall. DJ Jackson and Kris Abrams-Draine proved they’re legitimate SEC level cornerbacks with their play this season. Daylan Carnell, Zxaequan Reeves and Davion Sistrunk remain intriguing. Marcus Scott, a blue chip cornerback the Tigers flipped from LSU, will be in the fold by next fall.
That’s not enough. Not with the way college football is played now-a-days. You can never have enough corners. The Tigers landed two of the top corners in the portal last offseason, and Eli Drinkwitz is going back to that same bag of tricks in 2022.
The Tigers landed a commitment on Sunday from former Texas A&M cornerback Dreyden Norwood. The former 3-star recruit out of Arkansas redshirted this season at Texas A&M. This is pure speculation, but I would have imagine he didn’t see much room for upward mobility given the presence of an All-Freshman SEC corner, along with the five blue chip defensive backs currently committed in Texas A&M’s 2022 class.
Whatever the reason, he’s now at Mizzou, and he hopes to be a significant piece in Mizzou’s remade secondary.
Where he fits: Well, at cornerback. But... Maybe not at the top of the depth chart. Not yet, anyway. There’s a bit of a twist to Norwood’s story. Most of his high school highlights were actually on the offensive side of the ball where he played quarterback and, well, anywhere else his team needed him to be.
He had some experience at cornerback, as well, but the position is still relatively new for him. Especially when compared to the best of the best.
Here’s what 247 Sports had to say about Norwood when he was still a prospect coming out of Arkansas:
“Lean, athletic frame with good height and enough frame space to add needed bulk moving forward. High school QB projected to the secondary in college... Agility and fluidity should translate to cornerback upon long-term position move. Could provide personnel flexibility in secondary as corner, nickel, or safety. No verified testing numbers with 100-meter time of 11.38. Will face learning curve moving to corner full-time. Must get stronger and develop coverage technique. Power 5-caliber defensive back prospect who should bring ball skills and athleticism to the secondary.”
So, yeah, this is a bit of a project. But it’s a project with some big time upside. Norwood is a tall and long athlete with some serious speed. That’s in line with the profile of cornerback Drinkwitz has been looking for since taking over at Mizzou.
When he’ll play: Norwood should come in with the mindset that he’ll play right away even if he’s a bit of a project. The Tigers had seven cornerbacks with at least 100 snaps last season. Four of those seven are not expected be on the roster to start next season (Akayleb Evans, Allie Green IV, Chris Shearin, Ishmael Burdine). That’s a lot of turnover at one of the most important positions on the defense. It’s also noteworthy Ennis Rakestraw will be out until the summer as he recovers from a torn ACL. That means Kris Abrams-Draine and DJ Jackson will be the only corners participating in spring camp who played more than 20 snaps last season. This is a very young and untested group.
Drinkwitz is betting on talent with those who return, and that is also the case with Norwood.
Norwood didn’t play last season at Texas A&M, but he was a highly rated 3-star prospect coming out of high school for a reason. He’s a dynamic athlete and he’ll fit right in with this group of corners. Secondary coach Aaron Fletcher and defensive coordinator Steve Wilks are both known for their respective ability to develop cornerbacks. That prowess will be put to the test this spring.
What it all means: The Tigers added another high-upside player to the mix at cornerback. Mizzou was light on numbers at the position and Norwood is more than worthy of the spot. It doesn’t seem like Drinkwitz is concerned with going into the season with young players at corner given how much experience Rakestraw, Abrams-Draine and Jackson have been able to rack up over the last couple seasons.
Drinkwitz says he’s all about competition, and there will be plenty of it in the secondary this spring.