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What a commitment from Williams Nwaneri and Ryan Wingo would mean for Mizzou Football

Missouri would be upgraded to a major threat on the recruiting trail with commitments from some of the Class of 2024’s best.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Williams Nwaneri, the No. 3 overall player and No. 1 defensive line prospect in the Class of 2024, is set to announce his commitment on August 14. His top five includes Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, Oregon and Oklahoma.

Ryan Wingo, the No. 23 overall player and No. 7 wide receiver prospect in the same class, is expected to announce his commitment on Dec. 20 (first day of the early signing period), although he could bump up the date. His top schools include Missouri, Georgia, Michigan, Texas and Alabama among others.

The addition of two nationally sought-after recruits would bring obvious benefits to Mizzou. First, the skillset and talent that each would bring to Columbia would improve the state of the Tiger program from the moment they step onto the practice field. A higher level of talent breeds higher levels of competition and production, and both Nwaneri and Wingo have the potential to be day-one contributors that build toward NFL futures.

However, the off-field impact is what I want to focus on here. Landing the top high school prospect from Kansas City and St. Louis in the same class has not happened for Mizzou since joining the SEC. Receiving commitments from Nwaneri (Lee’s Summit North, KC) and Wingo (St. Louis University High School, St. Louis) would send a message to the rest of the country: No longer can you walk into the state of Missouri and shop for any 4 or 5-star that you please.

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One of the most frequent points Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz brought up when he was hired was the need to lock down the state borders in recruiting. So far, he has done a solid job of that, landing 5-star Luther Burden III out of St. Louis over a host of other suitors, as well as other big names such as Marvin Burks (‘23, STL), Josh Manning, (‘23, KC), Armand Membou (‘22, KC) and Dominic Lovett (‘20, STL).

Thus, the Kansas City and St. Louis pipelines are in the process of being repaired. The Missouri coaching staff, as well as the athletic department as a whole, has poured more energy and resources into recruiting the two major cities than ever before, evidenced by the “Mizzou to the Lou” series, summer tours to each spot and increased coaching presence at high school games.

As a result, athletes from both cities are taking notice. With a commitment from Nwaneri and Wingo for the class of 2024, Missouri will have solidified itself as a destination spot for the top athletes from KC and STL, and the Tiger brand would only continue to grow in both cities.

Losing out on both of them, of course, would have the opposite effect. It would be another instance of an Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma or Texas being able to waltz in and pluck whatever athlete they want, and another instance of Mizzou picking from the leftovers in its own state.

From a broader perspective, Drinkwitz and Co. have a reputation to maintain as well. With the commitments of out-of-state prospects James Madison II (‘24, FL), Cameron Keys (‘24, FL), Gabarri Johnson (‘23, WA), Tavorus Jones (‘22, TX) and Sam Horn (‘22, GA), this coaching staff has been able to reach coast-to-coast in ways the program has never seen before.

To maintain that reach, however, big-name commits are a must. No matter who they are being recruited by, every 2024 prospect would take a second look at the Tigers if they had the opportunity to join Nwaneri and Wingo in the same class. That, of course, is on top of the gained prestige and attention that the program would receive on a national scale. Reputations play a large factor in recruiting at the collegiate level, and the Tigers need to maintain their upward trajectory in that category.

The Burden commitment was certainly a major victory and an announcement that Mizzou was a factor on the national recruiting scene. However, one blip on that radar does not solidify the Tigers as a true threat on the trail. Sustained success in the world of recruiting, as difficult as it is to come by, is essential for a building program. Commitments from Nwaneri and Wingo would mark Columbia as a true destination spot for in-state athletes while also firmly entrenching Mizzou as a Midwest power in the world of recruiting.