PowerMizzou - Horn's commitment signals new frontier in Mizzou recruiting
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Horn's commitment signals new frontier in Mizzou recruiting

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There were signs--quite a few of them--in the 2021 class. Eli Drinkwitz waltzed into Columbia and signed a class that tied the high-water mark in school history, ranking 21st in the country. That ranking could still rise into the country's top 20 if some things break Drinkwitz's way.

There have been some other signs, like the early commitment of four-star SLUH defensive back Isaac Thompson. But the clearest signal that Drinkwitz not only plans to, but might actually be capable of, recruiting at a level Mizzou fans have never seen came Sunday with the commitment of four-star Georgia quarterback Sam Horn.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder is ranked as the 6th best pro-style quarterback and the No. 79 overall prospect in the country in the recently updated 2022 Rivals250. He claims SEC offers from Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee and Vandy. He also lists programs such as West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida State as having offered.

Horn is, to put it bluntly, the type of prospect that doesn't commit to Missouri. I don't mean he's the type of prospect that rarely commits to Missouri. I mean he is the type that doesn't. Ever. At least nobody like him ever has.

Mizzou has landed top-50 players before. It has landed top-100 quarterbacks before. Heck, the Tigers have signed both the No. 1 overall prospect and the country's No. 1 quarterback before. But those players were from the state of Missouri.

Here is the list of out-of-state four-star high school prospects Missouri has signed in the Rivals era:

Table Name
Prospect Year Home Town National Rank

Kyran Montgomery

2021

Indianapolis, IN

203

Daylan Carnell

2021

Indianapolis, IN

N/A

Dominic Lovett

2021

East St. Louis, IL

N/A

Tyler Macon

2021

East St. Louis, IL

N/A

Chad Bailey

2018

Missouri City, TX

182

Damarea Crockett

2016

Little Rock, AR

N/A

Natereace Strong

2015

East St. Louis, IL

227

Terry Beckner Jr.

2015

East St. Louis, IL

36

Nate Brown

2014

Suwanee, GA

N/A

James Franklin

2010

Corinth, TX

152

Jimmie Hunt

2010

Cahokia, IL

N/A

Tristen Holt

2010

Gilmer, TX

N/A

Dan Hoch

2008

Harlan, IA

N/A

Gilbert Moye

2007

Diboll, TX

N/A

Josh Barbo

2003

Conway Springs, KS

N/A

AJ Harris

2015

Stilwell, KS

N/A

That list is 16 players long in 20 years.

Horn will be No. 17 if he sticks to his commitment and signs with Mizzou in December. Of those 17, five would have been signed by Drinkwitz in two years. In the previous 18 years, Mizzou signed 12 out-of-state high school four-stars total. Drinkwitz is nearly halfway there two months into his second recruiting cycle.

But it's more than that. Horn plays quarterback. Of the 15 players on the list above, only two are quarterbacks. James Franklin, signed with Missouri in 2010 out of Texas. He was the nation's No. 152 overall player and the No. 4 dual threat QB. He is the closest thing the Tigers have had to Horn before today. Missouri has landed players more highly rated. It has landed quarterbacks more highly rated. It has even landed an out of state player more highly rated (Terry Beckner was No. 36 overall). But it has never landed an out-of-state quarterback as highly rated as Horn. Quarterbacks are the centerpiece of recruiting classes. Landing one early makes it that much easier to recruit the rest of the class. So does landing a highly-rated one.

Of the 17 out-of-state four-stars (including Horn), eight of them are from just across the Kansas or Illinois borders. They are technically out of state, but Mizzou has always considered the St. Louis and Kansas City metro areas to be equivalent to in-state recruiting areas. Horn is from Georgia. He's got to bypass at least four other SEC schools to have offered him (Tennessee, Kentucky, Vandy, Arkansas) on a trip from his home to Columbia. That's not an insignificant achievement for Missouri's staff.

"Wow that's a huge one," Rivals.com Director of Recruiting Mike Farrell told me. "Drinkwitz has not only created an exciting offense in college but he's done a good job with quarterbacks and that's showing in recruiting with Tyler Macon and now Horn who was coveted by many schools including some in the SEC. The strides Bazelak showed last season has been noticed by recruits and I can't remember the last time Mizzou was involved with so many 4 star QBs in a couple of cycles in a row.”

Drinkwitz is recruiting at a level Mizzou fans have never seen.
Drinkwitz is recruiting at a level Mizzou fans have never seen. (Mizzou Athletics)

Missouri has won multiple division titles in the last 20 years in two different conferences. It has finished in the top five and been in national title contention late in the season. It has done so largely by outperforming its recruiting rankings year after year after year. Players like Evander Hood and Sean Weatherspoon went from unheralded to first-round draft picks. Missouri became known as a place that could fool the recruiting experts year after year.

But all along, Missouri fans have wondered "What if we could recruit more highly ranked classes?" The Tigers aren't likely to ever match the SEC's elite (Georgia, Florida, LSU, Alabama, etc) in recruiting rankings. There are too many historical and geographic disadvantages for that to happen. But what if they can just close the gap? That's a phrase Drinkwitz has used many times in the last few months referring to the on-field product. The first place you have to do is on the recruiting trail. And he's starting to.

I wrote on National Signing Day back in December that the 2021 class was a good start for Drinkwitz. Crashing the nation's top 25 in recruiting rankings at a place like Mizzou turned some heads. But it wouldn't mean much if he couldn't keep it up. The 2021 class was ranked 8th in the SEC. That's about where Missouri needs to live. You're never going to consistently finish in the top six, but you have to stop finishing in the bottom three. If top 25 classes become the rule rather than the exception (Missouri had only two before Drinkwitz), the talent gap closes. The top of the division gets easier to see. So does a path to Atlanta.

What would happen if Missouri could recruit more highly ranked players? It looks like maybe we're about to find out.

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