High school recruiting isn’t what it once was. The “early signing period” is more or less treated as the only signing period. Last minute additions? Not often. Surprises? Not so much.
But there have been a couple last minute commitments for Missouri’s 2023 recruiting class, just days prior to star of the “early” signing period. The first is 3-star Lipscomb Academy offensive tackle Brandon Solis. The 2-time Tennessee state champion is listed at 6-foot-7 and more than 275 pounds.
Not bad size for a kid who transitioned from basketball to football just three years ago.
From The Tennesseean: “Brandon Solis didn’t start playing football until his sophomore year, where he played nose guard. He was moved to offensive tackle the past two years where he helped the Mustangs win back-to-back Division II-AA state championships. The Mustangs went 13-0 this season and finished as the No. 1-ranked team in Tennessee. The program enters the 2023 season on a 21-game win streak, the longest active in the state. Solis played just basketball prior to his sophomore season.“
Solis racked up offers in a short time, choosing the Tigers over reported offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Indiana, Kansas State, Mississippi State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, TCU, West Virginia. He also took official visits to Boston College and Cincinnati.
His story is a rare one. It’s not often a player transitions so late from basketball to football. It’s even more rare for a prospect to do so at a program like Lipscomb Academy in Nashville. You might not recognize the name of the school, but you’ve probably heard of their football coach. Or should I say, coaches.
Lipscomb Academy was the team former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer coached until he was recently named the next head coach at UAB. His replacement also has some decent name recognition: Former Dallas Cowboys star tight end Jason Witten.
Witten takes over a tall task, as Lipscomb Academy finished this season undefeated and Maxpreps ranked the Mustangs as the 13th best team in the country. Solis has played three years of football, spending the past two years playing along he offensive line. He’s won the state title each of the past two seasons. Here’s to hoping he brings some of that winning pedigree with him to Mizzou.
Where he fits: Solis lined up primarily as a right tackle in high school, and it only seems logical to project that as his future position at Mizzou. He’s definitely going to have to add some significant weight in order to hold up against SEC defensive linemen coming off the edge, but he already has the requisite length to hold up at tackle.
Solis’ best plays on his HUDL highlights seem to come in space. Given his basketball background, it should come as no surprise to hear he’s quite athletic for his size. He’s still a work in progress in pass protection, and he’ll need some coaching up - none of which is a surprise given his lack of experience.
When he’ll play: This is a very different addition than most we’ve seen in the Drinkwitz era. It actually reminds me of the type of addition we saw under Gary Pinkel. Pinkel loved taking offensive linemen or tight ends with a basketball background and building them into offensive linemen. It worked time and time again. That philosophy shifted in a big way under Barry Odom when the Tigers seemingly tried to find the biggest and meanest offensive linemen they could find. This addition fits more into the Pinkel criteria than Odom’s.
As a result, it’s unlikely we see Solis play any time in the near future. That’s neither good nor bad. It’s just the type of player he’s likely to be. My guess is Solis will spend much of the next calendar year in the strength and conditioning program adding as much bulk as possible in order to put himself in position to play in 2024 or beyond.
What it all means: The Tigers have added a high-upside player with the potential to develop into a starting caliber SEC offensive tackle. That’s the kind of player teams are looking for at this time of year. This isn’t the same kind of “no name” addition as the Tigers have made in the past. Solis was a legitimate recruiting target throughout the 2023 cycle. He played for a notable programs and had a serious offer list. It will be fun to follow along as we watch Solis develop in the Tigers’ system.