The Next Big Blaine

While Mizzou's coaches are still working on bringing in a quarterback in the national batch of rising high school seniors, they appear to have quite a leg-up on the competition in the recruitment of Blue Springs South rising junior Blaine Dalton.

"I think Missouri is his first and foremost choice," Jim Dalton, Blaine's father told, adding that Blaine's recruitment "will definitely be a quick process."

Blaine Dalton, who as a sophomore led Blue Springs South to a 13-0 record and the Missouri Class 6 state championship, has been noticed by countless major college football programs. And a scholarship offer from Mizzou, though not yet official because the Tigers have not brought in a 2008 passer, would seem to be a foregone conclusion.

Meantime, the Dalton family's mailbox is jammed with stacks of recruiting mail on a daily basis.

He's currently visiting Oklahoma State and will soon be taking trips to Florida, Florida State, Auburn and Alabama. He's been to Iowa, has been offered already by Tulsa, and has visited Missouri on numerous occasions.

"He has a great rapport with Coach [recruiting coordinator Dave] Yost," Jim Dalton said. "There's a lot to like about Missouri."

The Daltons plan to make the recruiting process swift and tidy, which is why Blaine is taking so many visits before his junior year. He won't likely be making any more visits outside of going to games this fall to check out the respective gameday environments at the schools he's considering.

"Two weeks, and we're done with [visits] Jim Dalton said.

Dalton played against incoming MU freshman Derrick Washington for several years in high school and youth leagues, and the Daltons are very high on Washington's abilities.

"We've seen what he's capable of. Blaine is excited about the possibility of hypothetically playing in the same backfield together," Jim Dalton said.

The only two schools the Daltons have decided they will definitely visit for games are Missouri and Nebraska. Speaking of Nebraska, there's been no shortage of talk about how this year's blue-chip in-state quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, chose the Huskers over the Tigers. But losing out on Gabbert could pay dividends after all, it seems.

"We've know Blaine Gabbert for a long time. When we went to the Junior Day [at Missouri], all the attention was on Blaine Gabbert. I figured he was a done deal for Missouri. So Blaine was thinking, I don't know if this would make a lot of sense" to go to Missouri one year after Gabbert, Jim Dalton said.

"When Blaine Gabbert chose Nebraska, that really opened things up from a Missouri perspective."

Sharing the same first name and being two of the state's most highly regarded players has led to comparisons between the two Blaines, but it's impossible at this stage to declare one better than the other. What is obvious, though, is Dalton is a big-time prospect. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder threw for nearly 1,500 yards and 23 touchdowns, ran for nearly 500 along with seven touchdowns and – oh, by the way – won the state title in Missouri's largest classification.

And those statistics weren't padded during blowouts; with his team pounding opponents, Dalton only played the whole game five times. The coaching staff plans to open up the playbook for him this year, so don't be surprised to see him putting up some huge numbers.

It also won't be surprising to see the interest begin to heat up and the offers begin piling up this fall. College coaches can begin calling juniors Sept. 1, and the Daltons will then be able to truly gauge which schools are keenly interested and which are simply sending bulk mail.

Dalton will certainly commit by the start of his senior year, quite possibly earlier. Though he will be reviewing all of his options, it's clear that Missouri begins the process at the top of the list and with a good chance of staying there.

"If you're from Missouri and you go to, say, a Florida State, you're just whatever," Jim Dalton said. "If you play for the state school and you're successful, you're basically a legend in that state forever. That means a lot."

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