By Ryan Shiner
Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel talks with reporters about the 28 recruits Missouri signed during National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 at Mizzou Arena. Photo by Ryan Shiner.
The recruiting period for next year’s incoming freshman class is now complete, and Missouri football walked away with 28 recruits.
The two most abundant positions for this year’s incoming class are wide receiver and defensive back each with six signees. According to coach Gary Pinkel, Missouri had a specific amount of players it wanted at these positions.
“We had a number we want to hit in every position and hit every number,” Pinkel said. “If you look at our receiving core, we were losing some high level players (this year) and some more players next year.”
Receivers coach Pat Washington explained why the number of receiver recruits is higher this year.
“We only signed one guy last year with J’Mon (Moore), and then you got about three or four guys that we are going to lose next year, depending on whether Dorial (Green-Beckham) goes or not (to the NFL).”
To fill those holes at receiver, Missouri recruited DeSean Blair, Nate Brown, Kenyon Dilosa, Darnell Green, Lawrence Lee and Thomas Richard.
• Missouri went after Blair because of his 6-foot-2-inch frame and his speed.
• Brown was recruited because, again, he is tall and according to the Missouri coaching staff, his ability to lead. Combined with his production this past season (1,081 yards, 21 TDs), that put him on the coaching staff’s list.
• Dilosa was recruited for his height and good body control for the position.
• Green (brother of current wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham) is the tallest wide receiver of any of the recruits at 6 feet 5 inches. He went through treatments for leukemia when he was in high school, and the coaches claim “his heart and spirit” are something they took notice of.
• Lee is the shortest receiver at 5 feet 11 inches, but Washington said his size is not an issue with as fast as Lee is.
• Richard was recruited because of his reputation for hard work and his ability to catch. His catching is evident as he made 122 receptions for 2,175 yards and 27 TDs in two years of varsity level high school football.
The number of players recruited at each position differs year to year, depending what team needs are. Pinkel said during Wednesday’s press conference that the coaching staff uses customized equations to get the number of players the staff strives to get each year.
“When you recruit, you are actually recruiting two years ahead,” cornerbacks coach Cornell Ford said. “If you look at the amount of guys we were losing this year and the guys we were losing next year, it is very necessary that we went and got as many guys as we got.”
Pinkel said the coaches looked at guys who could play offense, defense, and different positions in the secondary.
“We were looking for great athletes at every position, but especially the secondary,” Pinkel said. “A lot of times when you are in high school, what you do is you might go both ways but you might put your best athletes at quarterback or tail back or back in the secondary. So we have some guys who can go a couple different ways and put them in the place the best they can be.”
“Most are listed at db’s (defensive backs), but some might play safety, some might play cornerback, some of them might play nickels,” Ford said
At Missouri, the nickel is played like a linebacker or defensive back.
For defensive back and secondary, Missouri recruited Logan Cheadle, Kenya Dennis, Tavon Ross, Finis Stribling, Greg Taylor and Raymond Wingo.
• Missouri went for Cheadle because coaches say he has great agility and ability to make plays. He also had 42 tackles last season.
• Dennis, a junior college transfer, is tall for a defensive back at 6 feet. That, combined with what coaches say is quickness and willingness to be physical at the line of scrimmage, is what made Missouri want him.
• Tavon Ross has become a bigger name in the past month, especially since Alabama, Georgia and Miami tried to recruit him. Coaches say he has great athleticism, as he played both quarterback and safety in high school. On defense this past season, he finished with 87 tackles and six interceptions.
• Stribling was looked at because of his speed.
• Taylor was recruited because he is physical and versatile, having played both sides of the ball in high school. He finished the past season with 94 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions on defense.
• Wingo also played both sides of the ball in high school. He is tall for a defensive back at 6 feet. He finished is season with 24 tackles and two interceptions.