Ladner Fits Mizzou Tight End Mold

One of the most glaring positions of strength for the Missouri football program under head coach Gary Pinkel has been the tight end spot, where the Tigers will enter the 2007 season with a pair of possible All-America caliber talents in Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman.

The MU staff has no problem selling tight ends on the positives of playing in its offense, as evidence by the early verbal commitment of Smithville standout Andrew Jones. But the coaches haven't stopped there, as they continue to go after Pembroke Hill standout Spencer Ladner.

Ladner, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound junior with 4.65-second speed in the 40-yard dash, has about a dozen offers and is beginning to try and sort them out, Pembroke Hill School coach Sam Knopik told

"I think he needs to, before [narrowing down his selections], check out some of the schools and campuses," Knopik said. "I think [Mizzou] is right in the mix."

"He's going into the process with an open mind and is lining up all of the campuses in different categories."

Ladner had 620 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns last season, earning all-state honors. He also passed for a pair of scores. Missouri was among the first schools to offer him a scholarship, along with Kansas and Kansas State. He has been to MU a couple times, recently visited Wisconsin and will be traveling to Nebraska this month in addition to a trip to Oregon in June for a combine.

Ladner's brother Ben is a defensive tackle at Stanford. While Spencer is quite interested in academics, he's not looking at the Cardinal. Kansas, meantime, has an advantage in that both of his parents attended the school; his father Dale played basketball there. Illinois has also been putting on the full-court press lately. The one link he shares with MU is that Pembroke Hill alum Mark Allnut is the program's director of football operations.

His addition would potentially give MU another version of the Coffman-Rucker combo.

"I think that's big, the way they use tight ends similar to how we use them, and I think he sees that," Knopik said of Ladner, who is also a standout basketball player. "He's fast. I don't know if I'd classify him as a burner [but] he's pretty fast. His hands are exceptional and he really knows how to use his body in space."

Ladner is expected to make a decision some time near the end of the summer. Inside Mizzou will keep you posted on his recruitment.

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