InsideMizzou.com breaks down the Missouri Tiger Class of 2009. The class includes twenty five players - eleven on offense and fourteen on defense. The class finished with a No. 38 rating by Scout.com.
Headliner: Sheldon Richardson- TE/DE; Gateway Tech High School; St. Louis, Mo.
The lone five star prospect in this class is definitely the real deal. He has the speed and size to make an immediate difference on the Tiger defensive front. Richardson was selected to the US Army All-American game where he turned in an impressive performance--a true difference maker. He has the athletic ability to play many positions on the team, and according to Head Coach Gary Pinkel, that's okay unless he wants to play QB; then he might try to talk him out of it.
Instant Impact Player Offense-Kendial Lawrence-RB-Special teams returner; Rockwall Heath High School; Rockwall, Texas
Lawrence is a true difference maker when he gets his hands on the football. He is a big play type player who will take it to the end zone if given an extra step or two head start. Great speed, great vision and breakaway moves give this talented running back a bright future in Columbia. Expect to see Lawrence on special teams and the depth charge if he isn't chosen to red-shirt. With the recent departure of a Tiger running back, Lawrence has the opportunity to see some immediate playing time.
Josh Tatum-ILB-Special Teams Assassin; San Francisco City Community College (hometown?)
Former Southern California player, Tatum is just what the doctor ordered for the Tiger's defensive unit. Tatum brings a physical toughness along with great sideline-to-sideline speed that will be a valuable asset to Mizzou this fall. Expect Tatum to earn a starting spot this spring--this Scout.com four-star player has a true linebacker's mentality. He loves to hit, loves to make plays and loves to kill the opposing team's quarterback.
Best Pro Prospect: To play pro football, you have to have the physical size and tools to play the game at the highest level. There are two prospects that stand out in this area. Sheldon Richardson, 6-foot-4 and 275 lbs., runs a 4.7 second 40-yard-dash, and he has that rare size and speed for a big man. Expect him to grow even more once he gets into a Division-1 weight program. The sky is the limit for this young man. Josh Tatum is the other can't-miss pro-type player. At 6 ft. and 240 lbs., it's his speed that sets him apart from most. He has consistently ran the 40-yard-dash in the 4.4 second range.
Sleeper Prospect Offense-Big offensive lineman Chris Freeman gets the nod for this honor. You can't teach 6-foot-9 and 350 lbs., but you can teach football skills. The sky is the limit for this young man, but he must report to camp in great shape and be ready to compete for a starting job immediately. It's up to him how soon he plays for Mizzou.
Sleeper Prospect Defense-This was a toss up between two prospects. I went with a big need area for the Tigers. Defensive lineman Ty Phillips impressed during an All-Star game over the Christmas holiday. He was one of the most dominant defensive linemen at the game. If he is physically prepared for fall camp, he could add needed depth and speed to the defensive front.
Prospect under the most pressure
With the departure of standout quarterback Chase Daniel, the quarterback position is wide open this spring. Two true freshmen have enrolled early at MU to compete against red-shirt freshman Blaine Gabbert. Can one of the true freshmen, Blaine Dalton or Ashton Glaser, beat out Gabbert for the No. 1 signal caller position? Both Dalton and Glaser earn the nod for this honor.
Offense or defense?Miami tried to use that ploy to steal Sheldon Richardson away from the Tigers and apparently, it didn't work. Richardson has made it clear that he likes playing tight end more than he does defensive end. According to Pinkel, with the speed and size Richardson possesses, he can play almost anywhere he wants. Pinkel did say, however, that he would try to talk the talented athlete out of trying out for the quarterback position. Richardson will most likely end up on the defensive side of the ball, and this will be interesting to watch develop.
The biggest fish that got awayThis dubious honor has to go to St. Louis'Ronnie Wingo. The four-star running back chose the Razorbacks of Arkansas over his home state Tigers. Apparently the Hogs convinced him he would be the next Darren McFadden--only problem is the coach that produced McFadden has gone to Ole Miss.
Most under-rated offensive playerThis has to go to quarterback Ashton Glaser. The talented gunslinger produced some amazing numbers in high school and appears to have all the physical tools to compete as a true freshman.
Most under-rated defensive playerThere are several guys that could claim this spot, but the most deserving appears to be defensive lineman Ty Phillips of East St. Louis.