Thank goodness for Da’Ron Davis.
Otherwise, Missouri might have struck out within its own borders when the second recruiting class of coach Barry Odom’s tenure faxes in letters of intent Wednesday as the NCAA football signing period begins.
Davis, a Lee’s Summit North wide receiver who transferred from Hogan Prep for his senior season, represents the entirety of the Tigers’ Show-Me State commitments for the 2017 recruiting cycle.
Mizzou lost Bishop Miege wide receiver Jafar Armstrong, who resides in Lee’s Summit and committed to Odom’s program in June, when he had a last-minute change of heart after an official visit to Notre Dame.
Fortunately for the Tigers, Davis never wavered after committing in November 2015 and stayed true through a player boycott, a coaching change and a 15-month wait.
“It’s a dream come true,” Davis said. “I’ve been waiting on it, so I’m going to be really excited. It’s the only thing I’ve been thinking about. I’m sure I’m signing with Mizzou. Everybody keeps asking me, so I’m just going to let you all know now.”
Davis said he appreciated the relationships he’s built with Odom and his future offensive coaches, Kansas City recruiter and wide receivers coach Andy Hill along with offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.
“I stayed loyalty, because I’ve seen the loyalty in the coaches,” Davis said.
He was slowed a bit by a sprained ankle last fall but finished with 56 catches for 703 yards and five touchdowns in eight games for the 2-8 Broncos.
“It was off season for me, but that’s OK …,” said Davis, who also scored on a 94-yard kickoff return early in the season. “(Missouri’s) a good fit for me, and I’m trying to hurry up and get on the field. I’m not trying to redshirt at all. I’m just trying to play, because I’ve never sat out on a football team. I don’t know what that’s like.”
Davis, who runs a 4.46-second 40-yard dash, couldn’t help but get pumped watching the Tigers’ blitzkrieg offense rewrite the program record book last season under Heupel.
“I went to the Georgia game, which we lost by one point, but J’Mon Moore and Drew Lock were just unbelievable,” Davis said. “It was crazy. The team is really good, but we’re just so young. Nobody understands how young we are.”
Now, he’s ready to help Mizzou take the next step back to respectability.
Davis said his grades are good, but he still needs to bump up his ACT score — he takes it next week — to ensure eligibility next season.
As for Mizzou’s in-state whiff — aside from Davis, of course — ESPN senior writer Jeremy Crabtree said it shouldn’t necessarily be a red flag.
“There’s not really a ton of great players in the Show-Me State this year,” said Crabtree, who is based in Kansas City and is one of the nation’s foremost college football recruiting experts. “It’s more a reflection on the talent.”
Only five in-state players received a four-star rating and none received five stars from any of the four major recruiting watchdogs — ESPN, Rivals, Scout and 247 Sports.
Davis, who received a four-star rating from Rivals and Scout, and Park Hill defensive end Chester Graves are the only two from Kansas City.
Graves, who is a consensus top-two player in the state, remains unsigned. He has grade issues and might sign with Kansas or Mississippi, who will then stash him at a junior college, according to Crabtree.
Meanwhile, Pattonville guard Marquis Hayes from Maryland Heights, Mo., committed to Oklahoma, Battle wide receiver Jaevon McQuitty from Columbia chose Nebraska, and Trinity Catholic High offensive tackle Larry Boyd picked Illinois.
The good news is the Tigers were savvy in other areas.
Missouri shifted its recruiting focus away from Texas after joining the SEC during former coach Gary Pinkel’s final few seasons, but Odom made the Lone Star State a priority again.
It paid off with five commitments, the most from Texas since 2012, plus at least one preferred walk-on from the state..
“That was a tremendous move — a great, great pivot …,” Crabtree said. “I talked to several of their coaches about that, and that was a calculated move. They knew they wanted to get back into Texas, because it had been a state that had treated the Tiger program so well over the years.”