The early signing period has come and gone. It’s time to take stock in what Eli Drinkwitz’s second full recruiting cycle could offer to the Tigers in 2022 and beyond.
Mizzou had 15 commits sign on the first day of the early signing period, with the lone holdout being Deshawn Woods, a 4-star offensive lineman out of Omaha. The 16-man class is currently ranked 19th nationally by Rivals, 12th by 247 Sports and 10th by ESPN. It’s an impressive haul, and one which will likely go down as Missouri’s best recruiting class since services began tracking such a thing more than two decades ago.
That’s the macro. This is a very impressive class which has received much deserved praise from outlets both local and national. What about the micro? Which commits can you realistically expect to see on the field right away? Who are the potential diamonds in the rough? That’s what we’ll explore over the coming weeks in our Mizzou football recruiting class superlatives series.
The Diamond in the Rough: Ja’Marion Wayne, WR, St. Louis (MO)
There was a time not so long ago in which Ja’Marion Wayne would be considered one of the top prospects in the Tigers’ recruiting class. Wayne is a highly rated 3-star prospect out of St. Louis, the 78th ranked receiver in the country. He’s gone under-the-radar throughout his recruiting process despite those accolades because:
A) He committed to Mizzou more than a year ago
B) The best wide receiver in the country - also from St. Louis - also committed to Mizzou
If not for those two factors, Mizzou fans would be hyped about adding a talent like Wayne.
In his final season at Parkway West, Wayne scored in just about every way possible. He threw a touchdown, ran for 12, caught six, returned four for scores on special teams and he even scored on the defensive side of the ball with a pick six. He finished his high school career with 75 total touchdowns.
The correct response to that is: “DAMMMMNNNN.”
If you remember how I felt about JJ Hester as a recruit, you can go ahead and apply all of those same distinctions to Wayne. He’s big, he’s long and my goodness did he dominate his competition.
Wayne is an intriguing talent because he can do a little bit of everything. He lined up at quarterback, running back and defensive back. He served as a kick and a punt returner. You need him to do a job and he’ll do it.
It’s possible that Wayne is the perfect complement to Luther Burden. Burden can play anywhere, but he’s probably best as a “Z” receiver. Wayne is a prototypical “X.” He’s big enough and strong enough to beat press-man coverage off the line of scrimmage. There’s an old adage that football teams should build a wide receiver corps like a basketball team with players who can fit different roles for different situations and positions. The Tigers were able to do exactly that with Burden, Wayne and Mekhi Miller.
That being said, it could take some time. Wayne produced in high school, but he did so at a number of different positions. It remains to be seen if he’s ready for a collegiate route tree right away. His athleticism should translate, but is he there yet from a technical standpoint? That was the question I had last year about Dominic Lovett, and it applies with Wayne, as well.
Regardless, the Tigers added multiple receivers in the 2022 class worth getting excited about. Everyone knows the name Luther Burden, and for good reason.
Don’t forget about Ja’Marion Wayne.