The Columns would like to proudly introduce our first-ever guest contributor. Tom Weyerich is a Mizzou sports specialist with an emphasis in recruiting.
When it comes to recruiting, rarely do you come across a must-get player, however, for Mizzou football there are “must-gets” this year. The Tigers areas of need come at running back, wideout, and the respective lines. We’ll take a look at why each spot is important in this class and who can help address this problem.
They never get the glory on the field so here you go offensive line, you’re number one right here. The general consensus for the Tigers is that line play has been the biggest sources of separation between Mizzou and the likes of Big 12 powers, OU and Texas. Simply look to the draft this year where OU’s left side of the line will be gone by the second round and they have a RG and C that will go in the middle or late rounds. Also look back to the Tigers ‘07 squad where LT Tyler Luellen and C Adam Spieker were considered to be two of the best at their position in Tiger history. Neither sniffed a candle of getting drafted but were scooped up as unsigned free agents. The Tigers need to get bigger, stronger, and nastier along the offensive line and they have three guys on the roster that seem to have a good shot at getting this done. Anchoring the line in the middle is Tim Barnes, a 6’4 305LB junior, who was good as a sophomore, but according to PowerMizzou.com looks to be dominant in spring ball, and is apparently developing a nasty mean streak. The bookends are Elvis Fisher, a freshman All American and Dan Hoch who might be the biggest non basketball player on campus. Hoch was named the team’s most improved lineman this past spring.
What does the future hold?
Four lineman were taken in the ’09 class. The most exciting prospects seem to be Jack Meiners and Chris Freeman who are already larger than life at 6’6 315 and 6’7 325 respectively, and were both highly sought after prospects. Also added were Mark Hill and Justin Britt who appear to be more of project players. They need to add a lot of weight before seeing the field. The class of ’10 already has one commit Mitch Morse a 6’6 285 LB who just turned 17 years old, so he still has potential to grow. Morse was named All District, All Area, and All State in Texas as a junior. Daryl Williams and Nick Demien are the two other tackles that the Tigers are hard after and in good shape to land. Williams is a highly regarded guy out of Texas routinely ranked on lists of top Texas players, and Missouri is in great shape because Williams’ friend James Franklin is a Tiger pledge. Williams has already declared the Tigers as his leader. Demien is ranked as the 51st best player in America by Rivals.com, was at a recent Missouri practice and declared that Missouri has a definite advantage after the trip and said that he grew up a Tiger fan.
The Tigers need a game changer at the wide out position. Over the last two years they will have lost four professionals in Maclin, Franklin, Coffman, and Rucker. They will lose their top two wide outs in Danario Alexander and Jared Perry after the 2009 season. Jerrel Jackson, Rolandis Woodland and Wes Kemp seem to be the prospective game changers. Jackson seems to have the best chance and has shown the most talent during spring ball. Woodland has the best combination of height speed and raw talent, but drops and picking up of the playbook seems to have been the biggest issue this spring for him. Wes Kemp seems to be the safest bet, and has great size but needs to improve speed to become a true game changer. The Tigers signed a group of solid receivers in ’09 but not one person stands out as a game changer.
For the Future:
The 2010 class could prove to be the biggest wide out class in Missouri history. They have one pledge in Marquise Hill, who is small, shifty, and fast. However, the real excitement lies in the four 4* receiver, Jimmie Hunt. Mizzou seems to be in excellent shape to land him. At 6’1 195 and listed speed at 4.45, the Cahokia, Illinois native appears to have very nice combination to become an impact player. He has already declared Missouri to be his leader by a good margin and it would be a surprise if a letter of intent is not faxed into Columbia on signing day. One of two in-state targets for Mizzou is Keeston Terry, a 6’2 skinny kid from Blue Springs, is a member of the Rivals 250 and his best offers are Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Kansas. It was long believed he was destined to MU or kU with Missouri as the leader, but now declares no favorites. Marcus Lucas is a little larger at 6’5 and his recruitment is a little heavier at this point, with offers from Arkansas, Iowa, both of the Kansas schools, Nebraska Stanford, and UCLA. It’s really down to his other two schools that have offered, which are Missouri and Oklahoma, with the slight lead to Oklahoma at this point. Lucas is a member of the Rivals 250 and just missed the top 100. The most highly sought after guy is Justin McCay from just across the border. He checks in at 6’3 200 lbs and a 40 speed of 4.5 and is ranked by rivals as there 43 best prospect in the nation. His offers are highlighted by Florida, FSU, Georgia, OU, ND, Missouri, Tennessee and Oregon. It is believed McCay likes Missouri, Florida, and Oklahoma, but the distance to Florida may be too far.
Heading into next fall, the Missouri running back situation includes one junior and two sophomores returning for the tigers. The junior, Derrick Washington has to return healthy and show that his slowdown in conference play a year ago was a result of the cyst on his calf, not just playing against higher level competition. Indications are that when returning to full speed in spring ball he looked the part. The questions come at the number two spot, the men competing for the spot have a combined 41 rushes for just over 250 yards, all coming from DeVion Moore, some coming in meaningful minutes, others in mop up duty. The other option at running back is Gilbert Moye, who took all of his collegiate snaps on the defensive side of the ball before this spring, but checking in at 6’2 215 with above average speed he has the tools to play the part but must learn the position.
The tigers signed a somewhat sleeper in highly ranked Kendial Lawrence plucked out of Texas. His highlight film and physical specs scream Tony Temple part 2. Missouri swung and missed on three 4* guys losing Stefan Taylor to Standford, Knile Davis and in-state star Ronnie Wingo to Arkansas. The tigers have offered three players in 2010 so far, two from Witchita Kansas, although Demarcus Robinson is already a K-State commit, and one from Oklahoma. The two uncommitted players are rivals ranked 4* Joseph Randle, who has a top three of Missouri and the schools in Kansas. However with Robinson going to K-State my belief is it is a Mu ku battle. Delans Griffin is out of Oklahoma and claims no leaders but says he likes Missouri. I’m not oozing with confidence there but it’s a shot.
You ask why the must gets include no defensive positions on the list, after such a wretched season? My reasoning: the talent is there but its young. There are playmakers at every position, the earlier post cites the tremendous ends, on top of that Brad Madison and Malbrough have promising futures. Ty Phillips, Brayden Burnett and one of the most sought after players in the country, Sheldon Richardson add even more promise. Jaron Baston and two sophomores Terrell Ressono and Dominique Hamilton run the show in the middle. A strong pass rush from the above immediately make the back seven that much better with top round draft choice Spoon anchoring it all and the considerable talent of freshman, sophomores and juniors in the defensive backfield.
Note: Most information gathered from PowerMizzou.com and staff and other Rivals.com networks