Updated: Feb 27, 2020
Every year after the college coaching carousel dies down there comes the narrative that the big power five schools who hired new coaches get a new “recruiting bump” due to having a new coach. Mizzou has never really had that, until now. Could Eliah Drinkwitz be turning the corner in Mizzou Football recruiting? It’s possible.
Let’s start off by highlighting the huge impact that was the signing of Duncanville, Texas cornerback Ennis Rakestraw. He was originally offered by Odom’s staff earlier in the process but Drinkwitz and secondary coach David Gibbs did an amazing job down the stretch to secure his commitment which was essentially undecided all the way up to his announcement. Missouri was Rakestraw’s first SEC offer but after an amazing senior season, the likes of Alabama and Texas were knocking on his door. No literally, Nick Saban paid an in-home visit to try and get him. Despite all that Drinkwitz beat out the recruiting giants to get Rakestraw. Missouri almost never does that. Actually, they never do that. That made arguably a bigger statement than Dorial Green-Beckham or Terry Beckner only because they were in-state kids. Obviously they were higher rated players but does that really matter? Time will tell with Rakestraw but for now it makes a great impression for all involved.
When Odom was first let go back in November the expectation was that the recruiting class would fall apart. Not only did Dinkwitz sign a majority of the class, but he secured arguably the class’ most valuable pieces in Mr.Tennessee Football Elijah Young and four-star Oklahoma wide receiver Javian Hester.
Drinkwitz also added some of his own guys that are impressive that Mizzou had no relationship to prior. Kris Abrams-Draine is an explosive athlete from Alabama who played quarterback for his senior season but projects as a wide receiver. He could contribute pretty early. On top of that Drinkwitz added Virginia Tech wide receiver grad transfer Damon Hazelton to the roster who led the team with 8 TD’s the past two seasons and was All-ACC. He could come in and be the number one option at receiver right away. The Tigers also added line backer Johnny Walker and offensive lineman Dylan Spencer among others. A nice way to round out the class.
An interesting stat to go with this is out of every single 2020 prospect Drinkwitz brought onto campus only two went elsewhere. That is very impressive considering the amount of time the staff had to form a bond with all of the recruits.
Of course, the 2020 class will still be ranked lower due to the fact Drinkwitz was hired only two weeks before signing day but he’s also done something Mizzou almost never does. They already have two commitments for next year’s 2021 class. Tight end Gavin McKay and defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo are both committed so far. Mekhi Wingo is from St.Louis and goes to DeSmet high school which means Mizzou already has someone in other local kids’ ears trying to get them to follow which is really vital to having a successful in-state class.
The staff has already emphasized that they’re going to spend every minute they can recruiting Missouri and making sure the good guys stay home. Of course, it isn’t like Odom and company didn’t try to recruit St.Louis but Drinkwitz and company are very very vocal about it and seem determined. Assistant coach Curtis Luper who helped recruit Cam Newton at Auburn stated in an interview that you can simply outwork blue blood schools and put in more time for a kid than anyone else and that’s what they plan to do in St.Louis and beyond.
Fans should be excited for this new era of Mizzou football as many recruits have already expressed their interest in wanting to play in Drinkwitz’s offense and a lot of his assistants that were hired from around the country have been recognized as great recruiters such as Curtis Luper, Charlie Harbison, and Marcus Johnson among others. Everyone appreciates what Odom did here and the relationship he had with his players but those who have seen and met both Drinkwitz and Odom highlight the fact that he could never light up a room and present his plan like Drinkwitz is doing currently.
Could Mizzou really be seeing someone come in and change the landscape of the program like no one has before? Maybe. Mizzou is seeing a recruiting uptick and they could start landing guys that they never had a chance with before and more elite players are trending towards staying home. Drinkwitz was seen as a wildcard hire that has major upside but also major unknown so it remains to be seen but so far he has given fans a reason to be optimistic for the future.