Mizzou Building DeSmet Pipeline

If there's one place where Mizzou football's booming in-state allegiance is most apparent, it's DeSmet Jesuit in St. Louis. Mizzou landed two touted seniors from DeSmet, which hadn't sent anyone to the state school in years, and former DeSmet star Munir Prince transferred from Notre Dame to MU. Coach Pat Mahoney has had a front row seat to MU's evolution statewide and at his school in particular.

"I think they're obviously winning on the field, but they're also mending a lot of relationships that went back a while. People are no longer wary of sending kids to Missouri," said Mahoney, whose program will send standouts Wes Kemp and Robert Steeples to MU this summer.

In addition to winning and the rebuilt relationships with coaches statewide, MU's vastly improved facilities have played a key role.

"When I went there 12 years ago, I said it's no wonder they're not getting any players here. The place wasn't very nice," he said. "Now you go there and look at it, and it's as nice as any facilities in the country."

Prince, rated the No. 38 running back recruit in the nation in 2006, considered MU a bit during his recruitment, but MU wasn't going to win many recruiting battles with Notre Dame at the time. But when he decided this fall he wanted to leave Notre Dame, MU was an automatic choice.

"I think it was just a bad fit [at Notre Dame]. He just wasn't happy there. I don't think the losing had anything to do with it, it was just kind of like a bad marriage. It didn't work," Mahoney said. "Now [that he's at Missouri] he's got a smile on his face all the time. It seems like a lot has been taken off of his shoulders."

Prince will sit out next season because of NCAA transfer rules. He looks likely to be an impact player when he joins the team in 2009, given that he recently put up some gaudy numbers at a testing day – a 40-yard dash in the 4.35 range, a 385-pound bench press and a 585-pound squat. Already, Mizzou's defensive and offensive assistants are struggling with one another to decide on which side of the ball he'll eventually line up.

Steeples, a cornerback, has excellent speed and good size. He could see the field early on by outplaying a few other young defensive backs, and he seems likely to impact the return game eventually. Kemp, meantime, is a big, physical receiver who MU's staff expects to become a major red zone threat.

But the cupboard isn't bare at DeSmet: Junior running back-linebacker Devin King has been getting a long look from Missouri after rushing for 1,000 yards this year while missing roughly three full games. King, who lost most of his sophomore year with a blown-out knee, is 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds and could play either side of the ball.

"He can run people over but he's also got that burst, too," Mahoney said.

Junior linebacker E.J. Clark also is getting some looks, but is a bit undersized at around 5-9. Mizzou and others will continue to monitor him. But the best talent at DeSmet may be yet to arrive on the scene.

Sophomore quarterback Steve Kiser, who is 6-3 and 210 pounds, has the arm and the size to eventually be a Big 12 level recruit. And then two freshmen – receiver Steven Pace and cornerback Leon Moody – have the makings of future big-time recuits. Pace, who is already 6-3 and 175 pounds, intercepted eight passes while playing only four J.V. games because of injury.

In summary, the Mizzou staff has done a great job of cultivating its relationship with DeSmet, which paid major dividends this year and could continue to do so in the years to come.

Said Mahoney of his ever-growing affinity for the Missouri's vastly improved program: "I'd like to have eleven Division I players a year go to Mizzou."

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