On Wednesday, the Missouri Tigers signed their 2011 recruiting class, which includes 16 high school players, and one junior college transfer. While this class is relatively small in numbers, one of its primary characteristics is in the number and quality of the large men whom Coach Pinkel has added to his team's roster.
This is a class that adds quality depth to Missouri's roster, especially up front, on both sides of the football, with four offensive, and three defensive, linemen. Coach Pinkel and his staff have also added quality depth in the back seven of the defense, with three linebackers, and four defensive backs. And, the Tigers have added quality depth at QB, and at receiver.
Another interesting characteristic of this 2011 recruiting class is the breakdown in the origin of each of Missouri's signees. Five players in this signing class come from Missouri and the adjacent metro areas. One player comes from each of three states, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Oklahoma. And, nine players come from the state of Texas.
The lone junior college player is, of course, defensive line prospect Sheldon Richardson 6'4" 290 4.7, from St. Louis (MO), and the College of Sequoias, whose saga has been well documented. The remarkably talented Richardson has completed his junior college classwork, and is expected to enroll at Missouri this summer, or sooner.
Three high school players are already on campus, having enrolled early for the spring semester. The early entrants are WR Wesley Leftwich 6'1" 195 4.3 Columbia (MO) Hickman, OL Mike Boddie 6'6" 275 5.1 Gilmer (TX), and DT Gerrand Johnson 6'2" 270 Rayville (LA).
Leftwich has the speed to become an elite-level deep threat, and possesses a blue-collar work ethic to go along with his high end athleticism. Boddie is a talented big man with the feet to develop into a quality OT in Missouri's spread offense. Boddie has joined a couple of former teammates at Missouri, in red-shirt freshmen, Braylon Webb and Tristen Holt. Johnson is a high-level defensive linemen who has a chance to dent the two-deep for Missouri this year.
The headliner of this class is QB Corbin Berkstresser 6'4" 220 4.8 Lee's Summit (MO), who committed to Missouri about a year-and-a-half ago. Like many of the incoming freshmen in this class, Berkstresser is scheduled to arrive in June. The talented signal-caller possesses all of the tools to carry the mantle of the next Missouri QB.
Another Kansas City-area talent, who's been committed to the Tigers for a good while is DE Shane Ray 6'4" 225 4.6 Bishop Miege (KS). Ray is the son of former Missouri DL, Wendell Ray, and is widely regarded as a versatile defensive end with the talent to impact Missouri's defense early in his career.
From the St. Louis area, the Tigers signed a versatile athlete, in Brandon Hannah 6'3" 240 4.6 Chaminade, who could end up playing on either side of the ball at Missouri. Hannah, who missed the last three seasons due to injuries, played WR as a freshman in high school, but has grown quite a bit since then, and probably projects as a TE or even a DE. Hannah was one of the first players offered by Missouri in this class, and was one of the first to commit to the Tigers.
The Tigers went north to nab a versatile and athletic offensive line prospect, in Connor McGovern 6'4" 275 5.1 Fargo (ND) Shanley. This multi-sport athlete camped at Missouri, and the Missouri staff liked what they saw of him.
Missouri signed a trio of LBs, including the Oklahoma Defensive Player of the Year, in Kentrell Brothers 6'1" 215 Guthrie (OK). The Tigers offered Brothers last spring, an indication that the Missouri staff identified him early as a high-level prospect.
Another LB that the staff offered last spring, and that they really like, is Clarence Green 6'0" 195 4.47 Freeport (TX) Brazoswood. Green was a very productive player, who can really run, and has a reputation for being very physical.
Missouri uncovered LB Brandon Durant 6'1" 205 4.5 Copperas Cove (TX) a little bit later. Durant has grown, and improved, physically and athletically, following his junior season, when he played safety for his high school team. Durant is viewed as a LB prospect with a high ceiling, who can run, and cover in space.
In addition to Boddie and McGovern, the Tigers have signed two other offensive linemen, in Taylor Chappell 6'6" 275 5.1 Canadian (TX), and Brad McNulty 6'2" 300 Allen (TX). Chappell was offered very early, and is viewed as a versatile lineman, who could play anywhere along the offensive line. McNulty will play inside, and already has the size to compete at this level. He's also already known for having a mean streak on the field.
The Tigers have bolstered their secondary by signing an exciting quartet of defensive backs from Texas, all of whom have great size, and can really run. Signed to letters of intent, and expected to arrive at Missouri in June, are:
Cortland Browning 6'1" 194 4.48 Tyler (TX) Lee
Ian Simon 6'0" 175 4.42 Mansfield (TX) Legacy
David Johnson 6'0" 180 4.37 Spring (TX)
Ernest Payton 6'3" 195 4.4 College Station (TX) A&M Consolidated
If there's one identifying characteristic of Missouri's 2011 signing class, I would use the phrase "high ceiling", to describe nearly every player signed. As I look up and down the list, I see great athletes, many of whom have just scratched the surface of their football potential. I also see young men of quality character, and with the demonstrated work ethic to realize their potential.
For most of them, maybe for almost all of them, 2011 will be a red-shirt year in which they will begin their journey toward reaching that high ceiling.