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On Sunday, Logan Cheadle knew he was getting close to a decision. He was ready to announce between Missouri and Iowa State, after visiting both schools in the previous two weeks for one final impression.
There was still one more thing for the Lee's Summit West cornerback to do, however.
"After Missouri's camp, they were having a barbecue thing," Cheadle said. "The staff asked me if I was going to come, and I said, 'First I have to talk to E.J.'"
E.J., of course, is Missouri's senior cornerback, E.J. Gaines, a likely captain for the Tigers this fall. Cheadle and Gaines' relationship goes way back, to Pop Warner football when the younger Cheadle used to look up to Gaines, four years his senior.
Since then, the two remained friends, and Gaines became Cheadle's closest confidant through the recruiting process. So with a decision date set and the finalists selected, Cheadle had to speak with Gaines one more time.
Now, Cheadle cites that conversation as a big reason why he committed to Missouri on Thursday afternoon. It wasn't that Gaines told him to pick the Tigers, or sugarcoated his career in Columbia.
Instead, it was the fact that Gaines put everything out there.
"He told me everything about his time at Mizzou, the good and the bad," Cheadle said. "There wasn't a lot of bad, but it meant a lot that he cared enough about me to lay everything out there."
With that conversation still fresh in his mind, Cheadle woke up on Thursday morning ready to take one last look at his finalists. He said he made a spreadsheet, listing the pros and cons of both programs.
Two factors tipped the scales for Missouri.
"It's close to home, but the biggest difference was my relationship with the coaches and players," Cheadle said. "They've been recruiting me since freshman year, and it's become like a home to me."
So Cheadle will again continue to follow the footsteps of Gaines, a standout defender for the Tigers. All along, Cheadle has been compared to Gaines. To him, he loves and appreciates those comparisons.
"But I don't know how much E.J. likes a high schooler being compared to him," Cheadle said, laughing.