Missouri shored up one of its biggest areas of need Sunday with a pair of defensive tackle commitments.
Alief Taylor High senior Kobie Whiteside from Houston and Eastern Arizona College sophomore Walter Palmore committed to the Tigers after visiting Columbia last weekend.
Both commitments were confirmed Monday.
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Whiteside — a 6-foot-1, 304-pound Rivals two-star prospect — also had offers from Illinois, Louisiana at Monroe, Colorado State, New Mexico, Texas-San Antonio, Bowling Green and Texas State, according to various recruiting services.
“When I went up there and saw what Missouri can offer and the history of Missouri, the culture of the Missouri defensive line, I just gravitated towards it,” Whiteside said.
He was a Texas Associated Press Sports Editors Class 6A all-state honorable mention as a senior — totaling 95 tackles, including 19 for a loss and seven sacks, with an interception and a forced fumble.
Whiteside is rated as a three-star prospect by 247 Sports, which lists him as the No. 91 defensive tackle in the 2017 class. Scout lists him as a two-star prospect and ESPN has no rating.
“I think he’s going to shock a lot of people and play with a chip on his shoulder,” said Whiteside football coach, Brian Randle. “If he was taller, if that kid was an inch or two taller, he could go anywhere he wanted to in America, because he’s so strong.”
Randle said Whiteside, who was the defensive MVP in Texas 6A District 23, squats 635 pounds and benches 405 pounds.
“We’re in a tough district, and this kid dominated,” said Randle, who compared Whiteside with former Texas All-American and Steelers five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton. “I don’t see anything changing, to be honest. … Casey wasn’t that tall but Casey was explosive as hell and strong as an ox. That is just how Kobie Whiteside is.”
Randle said Whiteside needs to recognize pass sets faster, which will improve his pass rush, and must continue developing his hand-fighting to make up for short arms.
“But, in all honesty, if you just turn that film on and watch him, the kid can go,” said Randle, adding that Whiteside is a model student-athlete with no off-field baggage who “just wants to lift weights and play football.”
Palmore originally signed with Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College after graduating from Hardaway High in Columbus, Ga., in 2014.
He redshirted that fall before transferring to Eastern Arizona College, where he recorded 36 tackles with five sacks as a freshman in 2015 and added 35 tackles with three sacks as a sophomore last fall.
“We’re proud that he’s got a home and, from what it sounds like, they’ve got a need, so it’s kind of a win-win situation,” Eastern Arizona coach John O’Mera said.
Palmore (6-4, 305), who has two years of eligibility and already has redshirted, is a three-star prospect ranked as the No. 85 junior college player in the 2017 class by Rivals.
Palmore also had offers from Georgia, Kansas State, Arizona State, California, TCU, West Virginia and several Group of Five programs.
“The biggest thing with Missouri was they were relentless,” O’Mera said. “They’ve had a guy out here every opportunity I think they possibly could legally to speak to him. Anytime you feel wanted, and they’ve had good recruiters coming in here and building a good relationship.”
New Tigers defensive-line coach Brick Haley dropped by for the last few visits.
Palmore also is rated as a three-star prospect by 247 Sports, ESPN and Scout.
“He’s a guy that’s just going to keep getting better,” O’Mera said. “He hasn’t had a whole lot of football, strength development and all that. He made night and day in one year (between his freshman and sophomore seasons). What’s he going to make in another year and another year? He’s finally got the want-to to hit the weight room.”
Missouri needed depth at defensive tackle after Rickey Hatley and Josh Augusta graduated and sophomore Josh Moore from Olathe North decided to transfer.
The Tigers only return four defensive tackles — senior A.J. Logan, junior Terry Beckner Jr., redshirt sophomore Tyrell Jacobs and sophomore Markell Utsey — plus a previous commitment from ASA College defensive tackle Rashad Brandon.
Beckner and Utsey are coming off ACL surgery and Jacobs has never played against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.