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The DNA of the 2023 Missouri Football Tigers

The demographics of the 2023 team. Because I find that interesting.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Arkansas at Missouri Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is your annual reminder that I am absolutely insane and keep track of fairly useless amounts of data about Missouri Football’s roster. And, instead of being a weird hoarder of this information, once a year I put it into an article for you to gaze upon, a fleeting moment to take a look at the makeup of this 2023 team. There’s lots of excitement about what the on-the-field product can be, yes, but aren’t you more excited about where they come from, the massive class imbalance, and the blue-chip ratios? I know I am!

I did this in 2020, 2021, and 2022 as well; based on feedback I left the walk-ons out of most of these tabulations (keyword: most).

Let’s start with the roster breakdown. Here’s the overview:

Roster Demographics

Let me break it down into four subcategories here:

Blue-Chip Ratio

Per 247’s Bud Elliott, the blue-chip ratio tracks how well an individual team recruits over a four-year period. Teams who are able to consistently reel in recruiting classes of 4- and 5-star kids are able to field a team with enough athleticism to compete for national championships. It doesn’t mean the team is any good, mind you (think TEXAS), it just simply means their ceiling is high enough that they could hold their own against elite teams. The cutoff point is 50%, meaning at least 43 of a team’s 85 scholarship players are 4/5 star guys coming out of high school.

When I did this exercise in 2021, I pointed out that the 2020 roster had a 5% blue-chip ratio and the ‘21 version had an 11% BCR. I joked that we should expect ‘22 to be at 24% and then ‘23 to be at 53% since Drinkwitz doubled the BCR in one year and clearly could continue doing so ad infinetum.

Missouri’s 2022 BCR was 21% which is pretty close to 24%. However, heading into 2023 the unstoppable “BCR line go up by doubles” model has hit a snag, and instead of hovering near 50%, it’s at a mere 27%. Again, this is the best Missouri has ever been in BCR so that’s good. But it shows the importance of stacking multiple Top 15 rosters together and this year’s recruiting class didn’t quite measure up to those lofty goals.

Class Balance

We’re heading into our third year of managing super senior/graduate students on the roster and, well, the class balance is still pretty messy:

2023 Roster by Class

How much of this is a COVID-senior problem and how much of it is a transfer portal problem? No clue! It’ll take time to figure that aspect out as the transfer portal normalizes after being (probably) overutilized in the beginning and the super seniors cycle out of the sport. It used to be that teams would have fewer players as they got older, so seniors would be maybe 10-15% of your roster while freshmen would be around 40-45%; now, the Junior and Sophomore classes combined are less than the freshman class, which has six more guys than the Senior (plus graduates) class! It’s much easier to add eligible players to a roster now than it was even three years ago but it is odd to see the uneven breakdown here.

Stars and Positions

Positions by star-ratings

Outside of cornerback and specialist, each position group has at least one blue chipper in it. I haven’t done the research but I honestly don’t need to: this is the most star talent a Missouri roster has had since the dawn of the recruiting service era. Going off of stars, the most talented position groups are the receivers (5 blue chippers, two of which are 5-stars) followed by the safeties (4) and the defensive tackles (3). Those were the same three positions that had the most recruiting stars at this time last year, and at least two of those three positions groups were dynamite. Will we see all three click this year?

What states are the Tigers drawing talent from?

2022 Players by State

At this time last year, Missouri (23), Texas (11), and Georgia (8) were the top three contributing states of scholarship players to the Missouri football team. This year? Missouri’s lead has grown (26), the Texan contingent has held steady but is still solidly #2 (11), and the third-most populous state on the team has shrunk to have six gentlemen representing the state of Florida. Between 2022 and 2023, Mizzou’s Georgia contingent shrunk the most, going from eight players in ‘22 to four in 2023, and that’s before the Tigers project to bring in a massive class of Floridians for the next season. However, if you think about the recruiting efforts this staff has prioritized and the metro areas that the Tigers have been targeting these numbers make a lot of sense.

Here’s a visual representation of the areas that Missouri has drawn talent from to craft the 2023 roster:

Map of 2023 player’s hometowns

The darker the area means the more players the team is pulling from that specific zip code. And, as you can see, the dark areas continue to be the major metro areas you would want the Tigers to target: STL, DFW, ATL, plus a growing contribution from Houston, Chicago, and the middle reaches of Florida.

Overall -and to no one’s surprise - the roster is skewed heavily to states located in the SEC footprint since, as we all know, the most talented high school football talent tends to come from the southeastern United States. It’s also a lot easier for a staff based in Columbia, MO to travel to the southeast than, say, the west coast.

So what’s the point of all this?

This piece is mostly just to act as a depository for my weird data hoarding, if we’re being frank. But also to give you a better idea of where the roster currently stands and provide a benchmark in order to watch as to how it evolves over time.

I’ll admit it: this is my favorite piece to write every year. I’m not sure if you all get anything out of it but I love deep diving on how a roster gets constructed and where the players come from.

And after four years of recruiting, this roster is essentially 100% guys that Drinkwitz recruited or portalled (you can check out the Odom holdovers here and here). It’ll be really interesting to see which Odom guys he chooses to continue to play/earn playing time versus how many of his guys are established leaders and snap eaters. For the first time in his regime, we will finally see what a nearly fully formed Eli Drinkwitz Missouri team plays like. Hopefully, good things come from that.