Missouri landed a 2017 quarterback commitment Wednesday when East St. Louis’ Rey Estes de-committed from Western Michigan and gave his verbal pledge instead to the Tigers.
Estes, a dual-threat quarterback whose given first name is Reyondous, joins a growing list of Flyers — including sophomore defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. and freshman offensive lineman Tre’Vour Simms — set to suit up in Columbia next season.
Estes received an offer from Missouri on Monday. He found out via a text from East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett.
Calling the Western Michigan staff to whom he’d committed in February was a difficult moment, but he’s thrilled to join Mizzou.
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“I felt like they understand where I’m coming from and, after talking it over with my mom and my coaching staff, it wasn’t an easy thing to do, but I think it’s the best decision for my future,” Estes said.
The Tigers have two other scholarship players who graduated from East St. Louis —running back Nate Strong and safety Greg Taylor, who are both sophomores and Hinds (Miss.) Community College transfers — already on the roster.
“I played with every last one of them,” Estes said. “That was a big plus for me. … It will be exciting to have them down there on campus with me. To have a brotherhood from high school to the next level is a big thing.”
Estes is an athletically gifted player with speed to burn, which gives him mobility in the pocket and makes him a threat in the open field with the ball tucked under his arm.
He shows nice touch on the deep ball and enough arm strength to make throws toward the boundary.
Estes said he improved his ability to throw on the run last season and learned to go through progressions rather than rely on his running ability.
“I’m still learning, but I know I got better last year and I’m still working to get better,” Estes said. “I worked with (new MU offensive coordinator Josh) Heupel at camp and he’s already coached me up on things like my base. I took it to heart and am working on it now.”
Estes — 6-feet and 165 pounds — is a three-star prospect, according to 247 Sports, which ranks him as the No. 26 player in Illinois and No. 24 dual-threat quarterback in the 2017 class.
“Dealing with a guy like Coach Ford, you can tell he really cares about you and he makes you feel welcome,” Estes said of Tigers running backs coach Cornell Ford, his primary recruiter . “He knows what you future goals are and wants to help you reach them, getting you better day by day on and off the field with life skills.”
Estes — a Rivals two-star recruit, who also had offers from Illinois and Jackson State — would be Missouri’s fifth scholarship player from East St. Louis, but he may not be the last to commit in the upcoming class.
Flyers wide receiver Jeff Thomas is a top target for the Tigers and also happens to be close friends with Estes.
Thomas is a Rivals four-star prospect has offers from college football who’s who list —Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Kansas, Miami (Fla.), Michigan State, Texas A&M, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Syracuse, according to various recruiting services.
He is the top player in Illinois, according to Scout, and ranked No. 2 by 247 Sports and ESPN.
“I’ll be talking to him and kind of pulling the string to get him to come and join me also,” Estes said.
Thomas, who also lined up at tailback and cornerback in addition to returning punts last season and has been clocked with a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, is a consensus top-15 wide receiver nationally — checking in seventh in the country for Scout and 247 Sports, 13th for Rivals and 14th for ESPN.
He’s an ESPN 300 prospect, ranked No. 96 overall in the 2017 class, while Scout pegs him No. 49, 247 Sports lists him at No. 52 and Rivals has him No. 88.