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Recruiting Reset: Is Jackson Hancock the next under-the-radar recruit to become a star at Mizzou?

Mizzou was the lone power-five offer for the 3-star safety from Georgia. Did the Tigers find another under-the-radar steal?

If a coach is going to win at Mizzou, he’s going to have to find some under-the-radar recruits. Missouri isn’t going to land a dozen blue chip recruits in each recruiting class. That’s just not the way it works.

But what the Tigers can do is find unheralded recruits like Sean Weatherspoon, Charles Harris or Markus Golden and develop them into future NFL players. That’s certainly the hope with new Mizzou commit Jackson Hancock.

The 3-star safety prospect from Canton, Georgia claimed just one power-five offer after his 2023 campaign in which he tallied 49 tackles, three pass deflections and four forced fumbles on the defensive side of the ball. He decided that was the only power-five offer he needed, jumping on the opportunity to play for Eli Drinkwitz in the SEC.

Hancock also played running back for his high school team, and appeared to be one heck of a kick returner. He’s expected to stick on the defensive side of the ball at free safety in college where he’ll hope to find some early playing time after the departures of Joseph Charleston and Jaylon Carlies.

Where he fits: Every expectation is that Hancock will stick at safety in college. He’s shown an ability to both cover deep and also fill his gaps against the run when necessary. He’s competitive as hell. It shows in his battles for 50/50 balls, but also in his ability to rip the ball out of a ball-carrier’s hand as his teammate is pulling him to the ground.

One of Hancock’s best traits is his speed. He was a piece of the 4x200 relay team last spring that broke his school’s record for the fastest relay time. That speed shows itself when he’s back to return kicks, especially. He routinely outruns the opposition, even when they seem to have a better angle on him.

One thing I would keep an eye on is whether or not he eventually makes the transition over to the offensive side of the ball. I wouldn’t put any money on it, but I do think some of his best film is when he’s in the backfield lined up at running back. He’s a patient runner, has the speed to burst through a small opening, and runs with the necessary competitiveness to make it at the next level. He has some similarities to current Mizzou running back Cody Schrader, in that regard.

Ultimately, I suspect the plan is to keep Hancock at safety with the hope being he develops into an all-around safety who replaces Charleston.

When he’ll play: Hancock has been telling reporters that part of why he committed to Mizzou is the ability to play early after Charleston and Carlies graduate. I suppose that’s possible, but I wouldn’t count on it. Mizzou is remarkably deep in the defensive backfield. Tre’Vez Johnson, Sidney Williams, Daylan Carnell, Tyler Hibbler, Isaac Thompson, Phillip Roche and Marvin Burks could all compete for starting spots at safety next year, depending on how things go. The transfer portal could also be a factor.

Regardless, Hancock is likely more of a developmental player than he is an instant-impact defender.

What it all means: The Tigers are hoping they found a diamond in the rough. Hancock’s other notable offers are from Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Middle Tennessee State, Navy, Troy and Western Kentucky. Those are all quality programs, but none of them are exactly power five teams. Mizzou is betting on their evaluation being ‘right’ and the rest of the conference missing someone who could develop into a starting caliber SEC defender. Time will tell if it’s the right bet or not, but this is the kind of player Mizzou needs to find in order to outperform expectations on an annual basis.