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Five Missouri freshmen who need to be ready to play, five more to watch

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Signing Day brings new hope and energy into a football program. Historically, Missouri hasn't made the biggest splash on the first Wednesday in February, but it's been able to develop the talent it brings in quite well.

Damarea Crockett (16) and Markell Utsey (50)
Markell Utsey's twitter

Signing Day brings new hope and energy into a football program. Historically, Missouri hasn't made the biggest splash on the first Wednesday in February, but it's been able to develop the talent it brings in quite well.

Missouri's 2016 recruiting class ranked No. 47 and No. 13 in the SEC by Rivals.com, but when you take into account: a 5-7 season, a new head coach and national attention on racism on campus, Barry Odom did a good job of finishing out the class.

Gary Pinkel didn't usually throw his new freshmen into the fire right away, but perhaps Odom has a "the best guy will play, regardless if he's a freshman or not" style. Something has to be shaken up on the offense, which ranked No. 127 out of 128 last fall. But the defense can be left alone for the most part, as last year's No. 5 defense returns eight of 11 starters in 2016.

Now that we think the 2016 recruiting class is complete, let's take a look at five incoming freshmen who will likely play in the fall and five who might surprise fans and shred the redshirt.

LIKELY INSTANT HELP

  1. Damarea Crockett - RB: The former Boise State commit was a huge coup for Barry Odom as Signing Day neared. Rated as a four-star by Rivals.com, Crockett will almost certainly play in 2016, barring injury. There's just too much uncertainty and too little depth at running back for the Tigers. Getting Oklahoma graduate-transfer Alex Ross was vital to secure some experience, but Crockett will be in the mix along with 2015 spot-starter Ish Witter.
  2. Tre'Vour Simms - OL: Simms is big. His 315+ frame will instantly allow him to compete on a revamped offensive line. He became even more important after three offensive linemen left the program in the spring. The ability to play tackle and guard will likely intrigue new offensive line coach Glen Elarbee enough to keep him on the two-deep, and maybe rotate in if the starting line isn't meshing together.
  3. Brendan Scales - TE: If Alabama wanted you then you must be good at football, right? Scales chose the home-state team as Signing Day neared, and he instantly became a gem of the 2016 class. Sean Culkin, Jason Reese and Kendall Blanton topped the TE depth chart in 2015, but Scales could see the field with his versatility. He can line up in the backfield as a blocker or line up with a hand on the ground next to the tackles.
  4. Tre Williams - DE: The defensive line is absolutely loaded again in 2016 with studs Charles Harris and Walter Brady leading the way on the edge. But Williams was the Tigers' top rated prospect by Rivals.com for a reason: he has the talent. He might be a little thin now, but perhaps he can tap into his potential earlier than expected.
  5. Darvis Holmes - OL: Simms' reign as the heaviest freshman was cut short because of late signee Holmes. Somehow, someway the 6-foot-6, 330 pound Holmes slipped through the cracks for the Tigers to pick up a potential contributor for this year. Had he got to campus at the start of fall camp, he'd of been a sure redshirt. But Holmes has some time to get acclimated with his fellow teammates and get in shape. He just might find himself on the depth chart Week 1.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT:

  1. Dimetrios Mason - WR/CB: As of now, Mason's position is still up in the air. But regardless of what side of the ball he winds up at, he could skip the redshirt because of his return ability. If his 4.25 forty time on his HUDL account is anywhere close to accurate, he could spell presumed kick returner and starting running back Alex Ross on kickoffs.
  2. Cale Garrett - LB: Garrett was somehow able to enroll at Mizzou this January and practice with the team during the spring and it could wind up paying off for him early. Because he enrolled early, Garrett has a leg-up on his fellow freshmen, and had an impressive spring - earning second string reps at middle linebacker. He could be the next Michael Scherer with his skill-set
  3. DeMarkus Acy -S: Safeties coach Ryan Walters was Acy's lead-recruiter out of Dallas, so the continuity is there. Anthony Sherrils returns, but there is uncertainty at the other safety spot. Cam Hilton moved back to defense but there aren’t that many bodies at the position. If JUCO-transfer Greg Taylor doesn't make it to campus in time, Acy might have to be ready to play.
  4. Micah Wilson - QB: Drew Lock will be the starting quarterback, regardless if there's a current depth chart to show for it now. If he gets hurt, what will Odom do? Marvin Zanders had a nice spring, but has been used sparingly during his first two years at Mizzou. JUCO-transfer Jack Lowary didn't enjoy much success in the spring game, so Wilson could be the guy to turn to if he has a good fall camp
  5. Markell Utsey - DL: The defensive line has a laundry list of studs, particularly on the edge. Inside? Well, Terry Beckner Jr. is a monster, but he's coming off a torn ACL and MCL from last year. He will presumably back, but how effective will he be? Who knows what Harold Brantley will be ready to bring? The Josh (Augusta) and Josh (Moore) Show will be there, but Utsey might wind up needing to spell them.