PowerMizzou - Voice of the Fantlebury: Changing Mizzou recruiting profile
football Edit

Voice of the Fantlebury: Changing Mizzou recruiting profile

GET THE INSIDE SCOOP EVERY DAY WITH YOUR PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION!

Signing Day — the OG Signing Day — is a week away, and Missouri’s on the cusp of breaking a streak.

Potentially, for the first time since 2002, the Tigers may not sign a 4-star recruit, as ranked by Rivals.com.

Missouri’s come close before, as recently as last year, when Jalani Williams was the lone 4-star signee. In 2017, it was 4-star DaRon Davis, who never made it to Columbia for college. So, yeah — rankings can be somewhat of a crapshoot. Not every 4-star recruit pans out; plenty 2 and 3-star recruits become legitimate stars, as well.

Y’all know this. You subscribe to this website, after all. We root for this team.

As Eli Drinkwitz looks to raise the ceiling at Missouri, though, the program is going to change its recruiting profile. One of my biggest pet peeves about Missouri recruiting under Gary Pinkel was his insistence that his staff didn’t pay attention to star rankings, went by their evaluations, etc. Obviously, Pinkel found plenty of success with players that fit his recruiting profile — but Missouri was still offering 4 and 5-star recruits each year. They just (mainly) weren’t landing them.

Realistically, what kind of improvement could we expect in Missouri’s recruiting? That’s unclear. I keep coming back to what Kentucky has done, recruiting-wise, under Mark Stoops. Since his hire in November 2012, only one of his signing classes has finished lower than 30th nationally.

The Wildcats, under Stoops, has done a great job in three states — Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan — and then fill out their roster with players from Florida. That’s led to the most successful run in Kentucky football history, winning 18 games over the past two years.

Wishing your team can recruit like Kentucky — what a time to be alive, my friends.

This is the part of the Drinkwitz hire that gives me the most pause. We literally have no idea how he will fare on the recruiting trail. Then again, Missouri’s last coach seemed to say all the right things about recruiting, even showing swagger and charisma with his players, but it just did not translate at all into consistent and maintained recruiting success.

So, now we’re here. Missouri (likely) won’t sign 4-star recruit for the first time in the Rivals era. It seems like years ago when this class actually had two such recruits committed in Antonio Doyle and Jalen St. John.

For Missouri to start a new streak, and for Drinkwitz to raise Missouri’s recruiting ceiling, I believe it starts on offense.

Missouri has had some high-performing offenses since 2013, but that was really the last season where the Tigers didn’t struggle to get the ball into their playmakers’ hands. Obviously, a lot of that season had to do with the fact that Missouri was loaded with playmakers at quarterback, running back and receiver — and also had four future NFL offensive linemen — but since then, the offense has lacked innovation and imagination. It’s been completely dictated by whether there’s a star quarterback or not, and if the quarterback struggles, there’s been no adjustment to open up other parts of the offense.

(Again, look at what Kentucky did with Lynn Bowden this year for proof that you can innovate your scheme to get the ball to your playmakers in new ways.)

If Drinkwitz can be as innovative on offense as his reputation says he is, and if Missouri can put out a fun, exciting offensive product on the field in 2020, then the recruits will follow.

A streak looks like it will end in a week, but sometimes to build something better, you’ve got to start from scratch.