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, and we continue with the instant contributor from the Tigers’ 2022 class.
The Instant Contributor: Tavorus Jones, RB, El Paso (TX)
The first time I heard about Tavorus Jones, I was confused why I was hearing about Tavorus Jones. Why is the 25th rated player in the state of Texas considering Missouri? How is he going to get out of the state, and it’s not for a blue blood? That’s no shot at Missouri, I might add.
Among Rivals’ top 25 players in Texas for the 2022 class, seven are signed to play college football outside the state of Texas. Five are slated to attend Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State and Alabama. The only two running backs ranked among the top 25 players in the state are committed to Oklahoma State and... Missouri?
So, I ask again, why was Jones still available when the Tigers came into the picture over the summer? I’m not sure I’ll ever understand. But I’m glad it turned out the way it did.
Jones is a legitimate 3-down running back. He’s a 4-star and a top 15 player at his position in the 2022 class for a reason. He has nearly as many highlights catching the ball as he does running it. He finished his career with more than 3,500 rushing yards, 1,300 receiving yards and 59 total touchdowns. He averaged more than 10 yards per carry and nearly 20 yards per reception over the last three seasons.
In other words, he did all there was to do in high school. And now he’s ready for the next step of his career.
That step very well might include significant playing time as a freshman.
Tyler Badie has declared for the 2022 draft. Elijah Young, Michael Cox and BJ Harris have a combined 89 offensive touches in their careers. Those three are the competition for Jones to see the field right away. Barring something unforeseen, I expect Jones to climb the depth chart quickly. Maybe he doesn’t start, but the expectation should be for him to contribute right away.
Tavorus Jones has some rare receiving skills for a high school running back. He's really good in space, and he had a few plays this season in which he went up and Moss'd a defender.— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) January 3, 2022
Like this one, for example. pic.twitter.com/yEVlcYKz9l
The Tigers could have a solid rotation if they decide to go with some mix of Young, Jones, Harris and Cox. Jones is an ideal lead back with his unique blend of size and speed. Young showed some flashes in the bowl game as a potential change-of-pace back. Both Harris and Cox should have the ability to serve as short-yardage backs in “gotta have it” situations.
Nobody can replace what Badie provided in 2021. That was a once-in-a-generation type of season. But Jones has the talent to follow Badie’s footsteps as a running back on the fast track to the NFL.