Teams take commitments from JUCO players at this point in the offseason for a reason. The coaching staff got to evaluate their current roster in Spring Ball. The freshmen are starting to arrive on campus. Updates have been given on players rehabbing due to injury.
The information is trickling in. And then an addition is made.
Actions speak louder than words, and the recruitment and commitment of Coffeyville Community College offensive tackle Ma’Kyi Lee is quite the action.
The Tigers clearly felt they needed another option at offensive tackle. Now they have one. Let’s get into what it means for both the team’s immediate and long-term future.
Where he fits: Lee is definitely a tackle. He’s listed at 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds. It’s hard to know how long his arms are without getting a measurement, but they clearly pack a punch based on what you see on his JUCO film.
Where he fits on the depth chart, though? That’s more difficult to determine. Javon Foster and Hyrin Morrison-White are your projected starters, barring injury. Alas, injury has stricken. Morrison-White missed spring with an unspecified injury. There are some rumblings that the injury could be more serious than originally suggested, and that could mean time missed during the regular season.
Beyond Foster and Morrison-White, things become more unsettled. Zeke Powell has spent some time as a starter in the past. Bobby Lawrence and Connor Wood could start in a pinch, if needed. The staff is high on Connor Tollison’s future, but he’s been spending most of his time along the interior. His future might be at tackle. Is it too early to move him there now?
And then there’s Lee. His situation is not all that dissimilar to when Powell arrived on campus just weeks before the Tigers took on Alabama to open up the 2020 season. Mizzou is deeper along the offensive line now than it was then, but the need for a plus starter might still exist.
When he’ll play: This is the natural follow-up question. The answer depends on a few variables.
Scenario 1: Morrison-White is unable to start the season, ends up missing extended time and the Tigers are forced to fill his spot as a starter. The staff decides to leave Wood along the interior, Tollison wins the starting center role and there’s a battle to start at right tackle between Lawrence, Powell and Lee. This is the scenario in which Lee could start immediately.
Scenario 2: Once again, Morrison-White is unable to play to open the season, but the Tigers decide to move one of Wood or Tollison to offensive tackle and start a combination of Polgar, Wood and Tollison at center, right guard and right tackle. In this scenario, Lee likely opens the season as your “swing tackle” and backs up both the left and right side at tackle.
Scenario 3: Morrison-White starts the season at tackle and Lee simply serves as a depth piece while working his way into Mizzou’s system.
What it all means: The Tigers added a valuable piece to the offensive line. Lee’s film is surprisingly impressive for a player who had zero power five offers out of high school. He had offers and took visits to Houston, Jackson State and Florida State, so this isn’t a situation where a player came out of nowhere. He turned some heads with his 2021 film. Mizzou’s offer to play in the SEC was simply too much to pass up. He also fits their running scheme quite well.
It’s a good fit for both parties. Lee, and under-recruited high school player who believes in his abilities, gets to test his mettle against the best college football has to offer in the SEC and Missouri adds a ready-made offensive tackle to a position group in need of reinforcements. Soon we’ll get to see which scenario plays out in fall camp. The Tigers are well situated to handle the position regardless of how things play out.