University of Missouri

Mizzou football taps into Detroit, Texas on morning of early signing period

MU’s Barry Odom: Coaches still learning early signing period

High school football recruits can now sign during Dec. 20-22 rather than wait until February.
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High school football recruits can now sign during Dec. 20-22 rather than wait until February.

Barry Odom has spent a lot of time silencing his critics the past few months.

In addition to finishing the regular season in the rankings and increasing MU’s victory total in each of his seasons as head coach, Odom cleaned up with in-state recruiting this year.

Missouri announced 22 signees for its 2019 class on Wednesday, the start of the early signing period, and the Tigers landed seven players from the state, with six coming from the St. Louis area. Two commitments, Arvell Ferguson and Shemar Pearl, have yet to sign with the program.

After landing TCU transfer quarterback Shawn Robinson on Tuesday night, Missouri added a pair of commitments Wednesday morning in junior-college defensive tackle Chris Daniels and linebacker Devin Nicholson. Daniels played at Texas with current Mizzou defensive tackle Jordan Elliott. Missouri added Georgia linebacker Jamie Pettway later in the afternoon.

Missouri defensive line coach Brick Haley coached Daniels with Jordan at Texas and said he went to his junior college for another player before seeing Daniels. Daniels was considered one of the top junior college prospects nationally.

“Having recruited him once before it was an easy deal,” Haley said. “(Elliott and Daniels) came in together (at Texas). That was a big plus for us.”

Nicholson went to Cass Tech, a national powerhouse in Detroit, where MU wideouts coach A.J. Ofodile graduated high school with Nicholson’s mother.

Since Ofodile joined Odom’s staff, Missouri has made a bigger emphasis in recruiting Michigan and Ofodile has had his eye on his alma mater for a while. Missouri signed three players from Michigan in its 2019 class.

Missouri wideout coach A.J. Ofodile talks about the program’s 2019 recruiting class.

“If he was a junior this year he’d be a guy that would be more of a national-type recruit just based on what they’ve had in the past,” Ofodile said of Nicholson.

From St. Louis, the Tigers signed wideouts Maurice Massey and C.J. Boone, offensive lineman Jack Buford, tight end Niko Hea, Ferguson and safety Jalani Williams. Williams is one of the Tigers’ highest rated recruits as a consensus four-star and top-250 player nationally. He chose MU over LSU.

“Jalani is a big athletic, long player with really rare qualities,” said MU assistant coach Cornell Ford, the team’s St. Louis-area recruiter. “To be so thin, he brings a punch when he goes to hit people. He hits like a linebacker. That’s a big-time get for us.”

While he is unable to impact Missouri’s recruiting ranking, Clemson graduate transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant is Odom’s biggest signee in the class. He stabilized the quarterback position for the post-Drew Lock era and gave Odom national recognition for landing a player who could have gone anywhere in need of a quarterback. Odom applauded fellow quarterback signee Connor Bazelak, who led his team to the state championship and played in the game despite a hamstring injury.

Former Arkansas wideout is another player with ties to MU’s current roster, having played high school football with Missouri slot receiver Richaud Floyd.

“We always had a strong bond,” Floyd said. “In high school we really played both (slot and outside). He’s taller than me so I think he’ll go outside but he can play both.”

The Tigers are expecting Nance, Bryant, Boone, Robinson, Williams, Daniels, Ishmael Burdine and Chris Shearin to all be early enrollees in January, which allows them to partake in spring practice.

Missouri’s class is currently ranked No. 31 nationally by, which is the program’s highest ranking since 2015. The rankings doesn’t account for Bryant, Nance and Shawn Robinson. The 2015 class was headlined by Drew Lock and Terry Beckner Jr. The Tigers could still add a few more players before National Signing Day in February, including former Park Hill star Chester Graves, a defensive end who is the nation’s top junior-college prospect.

Mizzou football signings

Player, Position, Height, Weight, Previous school (Hometown)

Connor Bazelak, QB, 6-4, 205, Archbishop Alter (Dayton, Ohio)

CJ Boone, WR, 6-3, 170, Parkway North (St. Louis)

Stacy Brown, DB, 6-2, 187, Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas)

Kelly Bryant, QB, 6-3, 225, Clemson (Calhoun Falls, S.C.)

Jack Buford, OL, 6-4, 307, Lutheran North (St. Louis)

Ishmael Burdine, DB, 6-1, 181, Slidell (Slidell, La.)

Chris Daniels, DT, 6-4, 315, Copiah-Lincoln C.C. (Euless, Texas)

*Arvell Ferguson, DE, 6-5, 210, Kirkwood (Kirkwood, Mo.)

Luke Griffin, OL, 6-5, 310, North Murray (Chatsworth, Ga.)

Aidan Harrison, DB, 6-3, 180, New Lothrop (New Lothrop, Mich.)

Niko Hea, TE, 6-5, 220, Christian Brothers College (St. Louis)

Martez Manuel, DB, 6-1, 185, Rock Bridge (Columbia)

Maurice Massey, WR, 6-3, 180, Kirkwood (St. Louis)

Isaiah McGuire, DE, 6-5, 260, Union (Tulsa, Okla.)

Jonathan Nance, WR, 6-0, 190, Arkansas (Gulfport, Miss.)

Devin Nicholson, LB, 6-3, 203, Cass Tech (Detroit, Mich.)

*Shemar Pearl, DE, 6-4, 220, Plano West (Plano, Texas)

Jamie Pettway, LB, 6-2, 234, Westover School (Albany Ga.)

Darius Robinson, DE, 6-5, 254, Canton (Canton, Mich.)

Shawn Robinson, QB, 6-1, 205, TCU (DeSoto, Texas)

Thalen Robinson, OL, 6-7, 315, Bowie (Arlington, Texas)

Chris Shearin, DB, 5-11, 174, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)

Anthony Watkins, ATH, 6-0, 180, South Hills (Fort Worth, Texas)

Jalani Williams, DB, 6-2, 170, Parkway North (St. Louis)

*Committed and expected to sign with program

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Alex Schiffer has been covering the Missouri Tigers for The Star since October 2017. He came in second place for magazine-length feature writing by the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association in 2018 and graduated from Mizzou in 2017.