It’s crootin’ season, friends! Eli Drinkwitz is officially off and running with the 2024 class. Mizzou’s first known commitment in the 2024 class is 3-star tight end Whit Hafer out of Joplin, Missouri. His last name might sound familiar because Whit is the son of former Missouri basketball player Jeff Hafer.
Thankful and blessed to announce my commitment to The University of Missouri! #MIZ #Chase2Dre4ms pic.twitter.com/eFCKCZv7b4— Whit Hafer (@whit_hafer) February 25, 2023
Hafer is the continuation of a trend for Drinkwitz of kicking off a recruiting class with an in-state tight end. Max Whisner (Lee’s Summit) was Mizzou’s first known commit in the 2022 class, Brett Norfleet (Francis Howell) was the first known commit in the 2023 class, and now Whit Hafer (Joplin) becomes the Tigers’ first known commit in the 2024 class.
I don’t think this is something Drinkwitz is going out of his way to accomplish, but it’s still a fun quirk!
What does Hafer bring to the class? Let’s get to the breakdown.
Where he fits: Hafer is a LARGE individual. He was listed at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds as a high school junior. To put that in perspective, here are some of the height/weight measurements for recent Mizzou high school tight end commits:
- 2016 - Albert Okwuegbunam - 6-foot-5, 215 pounds
- 2017 - Logan Christopherson - 6-foot-6, 225 pounds
- 2018 - Messiah Swinson - 6-foot-7, 250 pounds
- 2019 - Niko Hea - 6-foot-5, 220 pounds
- 2021 - Gavin McCay - 6-foot-4, 215 pounds
- 2021 - Ryan Hoerstkamp - 6-foot-4, 225 pounds
- 2022 - Whisner - 6-foot-6, 240 pounds
- 2023 - Norfleet - 6-foot-7, 225 pounds
So, Hafer is as big if not bigger than the vast majority of Missouri’s recent tight end commits, and Hafer is still growing. I mention Hafer’s size because I think it’s his greatest strength (literally) as a tight end. He’s more of a blocker than a pass-catcher at this point in his career. Think about how Daniel Parker Jr. was utilized in Drinkwitz’s offense; Hafer projects to fill a similar role. That’s not to suggest Hafer adds nothing in the passing game. He’s a big target and he flashes soft hands on his HUDL film, but that’s definitely secondary in his game.
When he’ll play: This is a loaded question because there are so many questions surrounding Missouri’s current tight ends. Tyler Stephens and Ryan Hoerstkamp should see the majority of the playing time this upcoming season, but Whisner has a chance to take on a bigger role. Norfleet — in my opinion — is more of a project, and could take a bit to see significant playing time. Where does Hafer fit into the mix? It’s hard to say.
The thing Hafer has going for him is his ability to “win” in one specific area — as a blocker. If he embraces that role and proves an ability to hold up at the point of attack right away, he could earn a role as a true “blocking” tight end sooner rather than later.
What it all means: Missouri has continued its trend of adding big and talented in-state tight ends to kick off its recruiting class. It’s always good to see a Mizzou legacy commit to the in-state school, and it will be fun to follow Hafer’s progression this season at Joplin.
The Tigers have not utilized their tight ends in the passing game very much in recent seasons, and I do not believe Hafer will alter that trajectory, but he adds another capable blocker in the running game and a big target for key situations in the passing game.