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.
We began with the crown jewel (Luther Burden), the instant contributor (Tavorus Jones) and the diamond in the rough (Ja’Marion Wayne). We continue with the player from this class most likely to become a defensive star.
The Most Likely Defensive Star: Marquis Gracial, WR, St. Louis (MO)
There are certain comparisons that are just unfair. Comparing a Mizzou quarterback prospect to Chase Daniel, for example. It does nothing but set that quarterback up for failure. The only way to live up to those expectations is to become the greatest quarterback in program history. No pressure.
I say that because the comparison I’m about to make is unfair. Nobody is Sheldon Richardson. But Marquis Gracial is the closest thing I’ve seen by a Mizzou defensive tackle commit since Big Shel.
What does it look like when a 6-foot-4, 310 pound man who runs a sub-5 40 lines up as a slot receiver for his high school football team? It looks like #Mizzou commit Marquis Gracial. pic.twitter.com/e8RkzaYJEv— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) January 19, 2022
Gracial, a 4-star recruit out of St. Charles, chose Mizzou over offers from nearly every school in the country, including Alabama. He finished with 16 tackles for loss and five sacks in just seven games this season at St. Charles. He followed it up with quite the showing at the Under Armor All-American Bowl.
Gracial is a special athlete. He’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds, but he moves like a running back. He’s reportedly been clocked running the 40-yard dash in sub-5 seconds. That’s freaky.
The only real question with Gracial is how quickly his play will translate to the next level. He didn’t play with or against the highest level of competition in high school. St. Charles went 5-25 in his three seasons on the varsity, and that wasn’t going up against the CBC’s of the state. Did that prepare Gracial for the high level competition he’ll see in the SEC at Mizzou? It’s hard to say, but I wouldn’t bet against this kid.
Marquis Gracial has some freakish athleticism for his size. It'll be a big jump in competition for him, but his talent might be enough to get him on the field right away at #Mizzou. pic.twitter.com/TARtQSGBVP— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) January 19, 2022
Gracial’s size and speed combination should be enough to get him into the defensive tackle rotation right away. It’s not outlandish to believe he could replace the production the Tigers lost when Mekhi Wingo decided to transfer to LSU. The Tigers could do a whole lot worse than a rotation of Darius Robinson, Oklahoma State transfer Jayden Jernigan, Kyrann Montgomery and Marquis Gracial along the interior of the defensive line. It’s up to defensive line coach Al Davis to make sure those guys are ready to go right away.
Comparisons can be difficult. They can set expectations at an unreasonably high level. I’m not telling you Gracial will be the second coming of Sheldon Richardson, but I can’t think of any other Missouri defensive tackle since Sheldon who possessed this kind of size, speed and strength.
If there’s one defensive player I’m betting on from this class to become a star, it’s Marquis Gracial.