Things got even sweeter for the Tigers when East St. Louis defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. chose MU during a morning ceremony televised by ESPNU.
That, ESPN senior writer Jeremy Crabtree said, was merely be the icing on the cake for Missouri.
“I think you can make an argument even without Beckner that it’s his best recruiting class,” Crabtree said. “Now, you add Beckner, and it’s kind of like the cherry on top of the sundae that just makes it even sweeter.
“It’s already a top-25 class that did a great job at filling needs. You do great in Kansas City, you do very well in St. Louis and, if you get Beckner, it just takes that even higher in the dog-eat-dog world of the SEC.”
Terez Hall, a hard-hitting linebacker from Martin Luther King High in Lithonia, Ga., also confirmed that he’s signing with the Tigers this morning. The class also included a big crop of Kansas City-area players.
ESPN Recruiting Nation already ranks MU’s class No. 20 overall and 10th in the SEC, a ranking that should with the addition of Beckner and Hall.
Brandon Martin, a wide receiver from Dallas, flipped his commitment from Mizzou to LSU on Wednesday.
Missouri currently sits 30th in Rivals’ team rankings, 11th in the SEC, but that too is subject to change.
“It is fascinating the excitement that has been generated about they’re doing,” Crabtree said. “I admittedly was a little concerned about them abandoning their Texas recruiting efforts to go into the traditional SEC states, but in hindsight it looks like they knew exactly what they were doing and mission accomplished.”
The Tigers, who had two early enrollees in offensive linemen Malik Cuellar and Tanner Owen of Kearney, signed another 21 players to round out the 2015 recruiting class. Another commitment, running back Natereace Strong of East St. Louis, cannot sign this period because he is enrolled at Hinds (Miss.) Community College.
2015 Missouri football signings
Tap each player’s name to watch Hudl highlights. Ratings by Rivals.com.
Franklin Agbasimere, Montverde (Fla.) Academy
LB, 6-2, 220, three stars
Agbasimere is a Nigerian native and relatively new to football. He also was relatively unknown, going undetected by the national recruiting services before committing to Missouri. He is a gifted athlete, but it’s unclear what his timetable might be for seeing the field.
Chase Abbington, Hutchinson (Kan.) CC
RB, 6-2, 209, four stars
Abbington, who originally committed to Missouri from Fort Zumwalt South in St. Louis, rushed for 832 yards and nine touchdowns with Hutchinson and added another 19 catches for 133 yards and two scores as a freshman in 2013.
He took a redshirt season in 2014 to preserve a year of eligibility at Missouri, where he will have three years to play three seasons.
“He’s a big back — like a physical, big back — that I’ve not seen them have in a while to tell you the truth,” Crabtree said. “If you’re looking for a running back that contributes pretty quickly, it would be him.
“I think he’s going to bring something to that Missouri offense that they’ve been missing. They just haven’t had that guy you can line up in third-and-short and know he can get that first down. It’s just not been part of their system.”
Terry Beckner Jr., East St. Louis (Ill.) HS
DT, 6-4, 298, four stars
Beckner is a load on the interior of the defensive line and fills a need for Missouri after the departures of Matt Hoch and Lucas Vincent.
He is rated as the top player in Illinois, fifth at his position and No. 36 overall nationally by Rivals, but ESPN ranks Becker as the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect with a five-star grade.
Beckner, who split time between tackle and end in the Flyers’ 3-4 front, was credited with an astounding 116 tackles, including 74 solo tackles, as a senior. He also had three sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception.
According to 247 Sports, Beckner, a five-star prospect, is the third-best defensive tackle and No. 8 player overall in the 2015 class with a composite ranking of 13th.
Scout.com ranks Beckner 40th with a four-star grade and lists him No. 7 among defensive tackles.
Beckner, who plays with a high motor and is surprisingly nimble for a man his size, also visited Florida State, Auburn and reigning national champion Ohio State, but ultimately chose to stay closer to home in hopes of becoming defensive line guru Craig Kuligowski’s next first-round stud.
Malik Cuellar, City College of San Francisco — enrolled at semester
OL, 6-5, 295, three stars*
Cuellar, a Fortuna, Calif., native, enrolled early at MU, which should accelerate his assimilation into A.J. Ricker’s system. It also should ensure that he’s a factor on the depth next season. He was a pulling tackle in junior college.
Marquise Doherty, Winnetonka HS
RB, 6-0, 193, four stars
Blessed with speed to burn, Doherty, who many actually believe projects best as a safety, could emerge as a two-sport star at Missouri. That is, of course, if he doesn’t opt to play professional baseball.
“Doherty brings a uniqueness in that he’s just such a tremendous athlete,” Crabtree said. “If things don’t work out at running back, he can easily play on the defensive side of the ball.”
Given his talent, there’s a good chance things workout at running back for Doherty, who is the No. 4 player in Missouri and No. 31 running back nationally, according to Rivals.
“As a running back, he’s bigger than the kids they have there now and they’ll put some more muscle on him, but he’s ridiculously fast,” said Winnetonka coach Sterling Edwards, who also lauded Doherty’s body control and instincts.
Helping the Tigers, who are 23-5 with back-to-back SEC East titles the last two seasons, take the next step as a program is Doherty’s goal. He also was considering Oregon.
“SEC East champions, they’re knocking on the door, and part of me definitely wants to help them get past that hurdle,” Doherty said. “Especially being from Missouri, there’s an extra sense of pride, because you’re from Missouri that you want to help Missouri get over that hump.”
Corey Fatony, Franklin HS (Tenn.)
P/K, 5-11, 185, three stars
Fatony was a finalist for the Tennessee Titans’ Mr. Football kicker of the year award. He projects as a possible replacement for Christian Brinser at punter. As a senior, Fatony averaged 42.5 yards on 22 punts, placing 11 inside the 20-yard line.
He also went six of eight on field goals, including a long of 47, and punched through 34 of 36 extra points, while booming 45 of 53 kickoffs out of the end zone.
Richaud Floyd, Gulfport (Miss.) HS
WR, 5-11, 165, three stars
Floyd reportedly runs a 4.38 40-yard dash and was dubbed “Mr. Friday Night” in his Hudl highlight video. It’s easy to see why.
He was a read-option quarterback as a senior and fitted many a defense for a clown suit, but projects as a nightmarish wide receiver matchup (probably in the slot) for opposing defenses in coming seasons.
Floyd, who is ranked by Rivals as the No. 19 player in Mississippi, completed 111 of 183 passes for 1,467 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a senior. He also rushed 133 times for 1,067 yards with 14 touchdowns.
As a junior, Floyd racked up 80 catches for 1,007 yards with 10 touchdowns, while seven of 24 receptions as a sophomore went for touchdowns.
Marcell Frazier, College of the Siskiyous (Weed, Calif.)
DE, 6-4, 245, three stars
Frazier will have three years to play three seasons at Missouri, which needs depth at defensive with Markus Golden’s graduation and Shane Ray’s early departure for the NFL.
As with all junior college players Pinkel and the Tigers recruit, Frazier, who will finish up at Siskiyous in May, will be expected to compete for reps immediately.
Emanuel Hall, Centennial HS (Franklin, Tenn.)
WR, 6-3, 196, three stars
Hall, who is the No. 28 player in Tennessee, according to Rivals, led Centennial with 55 catches for 991 with 12 touchdowns last season.
He reportedly runs a 4.45 40-yard dash, is a good route-runner and shows excellent ball skills and acceleration after the catch.
Terez Hall, Martin Luther King HS (Lithonia, Ga.)
LB, 6-3, 208, three stars
Hall is ranked No. 38 in Georgia and No. 29 nationally at outside linebacker by Rivals. He chose Missouri despite also taking visits to Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana.
On tape, Hall is a ferocious hitter when charging downhill against the run, but he also possesses the athleticism to drop into coverage. He helped organize Martin Luther King’s defense on the field, plays with tremendous passion and reportedly runs a 4.5 40-yard dash.
AJ Harris, Blue Valley HS
OL, 6-3, 297, four stars
Harris, who is Rivals’ No. 1 prospect in Kansas and No. 23 guard in the nation, was a pancaking machine at Blue Valley. He will graduate with better than a 4.0 grade-point average and should become a road grader on the interior for MU in the coming years.
“H is a tremendous interior offensive line prospect … and fits really well with what Missouri wants from their guys,” Crabtree said. “He’s athletic enough that he can pull or trap like they want to do, but he’s also nasty enough to mix it up.”
Cam Hilton, Webster Groves HS (St. Louis)
DB, 6-0, 172, three stars
Hilton, who projects as a safety, made 55 tackles (38 solo) with three sacks and seven interceptions last season.
Rivals ranks him No. 8 in Missouri and No. 40 nationally in the “athlete” category.
On offense, Hilton caught 51 passes for 891 yards and 14 touchdowns, which offers a further peak into his athletic ability.
Hilton also threw a touchdown pass, so he’ll probably angle for a few offensive snaps alongside defensive tackle Harold Brantley, who fancy moves on fake punts might earn him a snap or two at running back.
Nate Howard, Ladue Horton Watkins HS (St. Louis)
DE, 6-5, 220, three stars
Howard, who is ranked as the No. 10 player in the state and No. 39 nationally at weakside defensive end, spurned Wisconsin last Friday and announced that he was changing his commitment to Missouri — a move that could have positive ripple effects moving forward for Gary Pinkel’s program.
“It’s big,” Crabtree said. “It’s certainly big. It’s not only big because it helps fill additional needs, but it’s just another one of those perceptions in recruiting that, ‘Hey, Missouri can kind of compete with anybody on the national recruiting scene.’ … He’s one of those guys a lot of other recruits, especially 2016 guys, have paid attention to, so it could be one of those things — the same thing with Beckner, if he comes — if you can get guys like that to come late in the process when everybody’s paying attention, it can really bolster you for what you’re going to do in future classes.”
Howard fills a need for the Tigers, who lost both starting defensive ends (Markus Golden and Shane Ray) from last season’s 11-3 SEC East and Citrus Bowl championship squad.
Howard recorded 86 tackles (45 solo) with nine sacks and a fumble recovery for Ladue last season.
Tyler Howell, Butler CC (El Dorado, Kan.)
OL, 6-9, 305, three stars
Howell, who ranks 43rd on Rivals’ junior college top 100, was a slender player when he graduated from Bonner Springs, but he bulked up big time in junior college.
With a basketball background, Howell shows solid footwork and should be able to stick at tackle, perhaps emerging in the battle for the starting left tackle spot vacated by Mitch Morse.
Tyrell Jacobs, Rummel HS (Metairie, La.)
DE, 6-4, 260, three stars
Jacobs is ranked as the 45th player in Louisiana by Rivals. He finished with 68 tackles, including eight for a loss, with seven sacks and 13 quarterbacks hurries last season.
Originally, Jacobs committed to Oklahoma, but he reopened his recruitment in December and also took visits to Illinois and Kansas State.
Johnathon Johnson, Melrose HS (Memphis, Tenn.)
WR, 5-8, 174, three stars
Johnson, who also played cornerback and returned kicks, totaled 64 receptions for 1,381 yards with touchdowns as a senior slot receiver. He scored another six times, including three kickoff returns for touchdowns.
“He’s an unbelievable playmaker,” Melrose coach Eddie Woods said. “He’s a superb route runner. He’s very fast, he’s very strong, he’s very quick, so he’s going to be matchup nightmare for anybody who tries to cover him even in the SEC. … He’s going to be hard to keep up with.”
Woods said Johnson is closer to 180 pounds now and that his size shouldn’t be an issue at the next level.
“He’s very compact,” Woods said. “He’s not a small, scrawny kid. He’s a well put together kid. He’s very muscular. He’s obviously going to eat a whole lot better, and they’re going to put him on the right programs up there. He can hold the weight, he can run with the weight, so he’ll be fine.”
Drew Lock, Lee’s Summit HS
QB, 6-3, 205, four stars
Lock is the centerpiece of Missouri’s 2015 recruiting class. He might be destined to redshirt next season after electing to stay at Lee’s Summit and finish his basketball career rather than enroll at MU for the spring semester.
But there’s little doubt that he’s the future of the program. It’s only a matter of when that future will arrive.
“What’s kind of cool about Drew is he’s just an ultimate team player,” Crabtree said. “You can ask him to do about anything, and he’ll do it. I almost think that he’s kind of been taken for granted in this class, because he committed so early and it’s not sexy to talk about the guy who’s been on your commitment list since the start of football season.”
Lock, whose father and grandfather played for the Tigers, rocked the Elite 11 camp last summer a few months after committing Gary Pinkel’s program. He’s widely consider a potential pro prospect before even donning pads at the college level.
Lock completed 206 of 312 passes as a senior, a 66-percent clip, for 2,717 yards with 28 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He also had 75 rushes for 272 yards and another six scores for Lee’s Summit.
The last two seasons combined, Lock is 405 of 645 passing (62.8 percent) for 5,779 yards with 63 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
He is the top-ranked recruit in Missouri and the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the country, No. 177 among all players, according to Rivals.
ESPN ranks Lock as the sixth-best pocket passer in the 2015 recruiting class, No. 107 overall, but only No. 2 in Missouri behind former Rock Bridge wide receiver Alex Ofodile, an early enrollee at Oregon.
Josh Moore, Olathe North HS
DE, 6-5, 250, three stars
Moore originally committed to Ohio State as a tight end then switched to Kansas before landing on Missouri, where he is expected to be moved to defense.
As a senior at Olathe North, Moore finished with 40 tackles, including 11 tackles for a loss, with five sacks and seven pressures. He also broke up six passes, intercepted another, forced two fumbles and recovered one.
The Buckeyes didn’t want to wait and see if Moore would qualify and that remains a concern, though his grades as a junior and senior have been strong, according to Olathe North coach Chris McCartney.
Moore also caught 17 passes for 264 yards with three touchdowns as a tight end. He is ranked by Rivals as the No. 6 player in the state and No. 27 at tight end. He is the No. 13-ranked tight end by ESPN.
Tanner Owen, Kearney HS — enrolled at semester
OL, 6-6, 265, two stars
Owen, who enrolled at MU for the January semester, is likely heading for a redshirt year, giving him time to bulk and gain the mass needed to handle the rigors of SEC. He’s an intriguing, athletic prospect, who should benefit immensely from spring football.
Ronnell Perkins, University City HS (Mo.)
WR, 6-1, 175, three stars
Perkins, who is Rivals’ No. 11 player in Missouri, caught 27 passes for 581 yards with seven touchdowns as a senior. He also finished with 59 tackles, including 32 solo, and an interception last season.
As a kick returner, Perkins averaged 36.2 yards on 14 returns, including a touchdown.
Justin Smith, West Laurens HS (Dublin, Ga.)
WR, 6-7, 200, three stars
Smith’s height alone makes him an imposing player. He also was productive, racking up 65 catches for 1,038 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior.
Smith chose football over basketball despite an offer from Georgia. He averaged 12.1, 8.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.2 blocks as a junior.
This season, Smith’s numbers have dipped to 11.6 points and 6.9 rebounds in 18 games, but with 2.9 blocks. In 70 career varsity games, he averages 11.3 points and 7.7 boards.
T.J. Warren, Rockdale County HS (Conyers, Ga.)
DB, 6-0, 190, three stars
Warren, who reportedly runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, was a two-way standout for Rockdale County. In fact, he was actually selected all-region at wide receiver.
At Missouri, Warren is going to play cornerback. He finished with 54 tackles, including 30 solo stops, to go with three interceptions and six pass breakups last season.
Offensively, Warren caught 26 passes for 452 yards with five touchdowns. He also rushed for 369 yards and six touchdowns.
Ryan Williams, Lee’s Summit West HS
RB, 5-10, 178, three stars
Williams, who is rated by Rivals as the No. 9 player in Missouri and No. 60 running back overall, averaged 7.2 yards per carry as a senior.
He led the Titans with 126 carries for 913 yards with five touchdowns and also caught 29 passes for 259 yards and another score.
Oddly, Williams’ junior-year numbers were eerily similar as he totaled 126 carries for 946 yards. He did score 12 rushing touchdowns that season and added three more receiving scores among 14 catches for 173 yards.