The ones that got away: Best recruits Missouri football missed out on

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 | 5:11 p.m. CST; updated 6:48 a.m. CST, Thursday, February 6, 2014

COLUMBIA — Missouri might be happy with its 2014 football recruiting class, but the Tigers were unable to sign everyone the team targeted.

The following five recruits are, as Katy Perry might sing, "the ones that got away."

All of the players on this list either attended high school in Missouri or were targeted by the Tigers at some point during the recruiting process.

  • Monte Harrison, wide receiver, Lee's Summit; committed to Nebraska

Harrison was one of the most electric players in Missouri last fall, making highlight-reel plays as a receiver, punt returner and wildcat quarterback. He recorded 1,007 receiving yards and 28 total touchdowns on the season.

Harrison will also play baseball on scholarship at Nebraska. He put up a .457 batting average as a junior, with 21 of his 83 at-bats resulting in extra base hits. He has reportedly been clocked throwing 97 mph from the outfield and is expected to be a high draft pick in the MLB draft.

He also is not too shabby at basketball.

Harrison's best skill is his off-the-charts athleticism. At 6-foot-2, he has the size, speed and ball skills necessary to make mid-air adjustments resulting in spectacular leaping catches.

Although Missouri had a top group of wideouts last year, the team will lose senior wide receivers L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas. Monte Harrison could have provided a nice boost to both the football and baseball teams.

  • Braden Smith, offensive guard, Olathe South, Kan.; committed to Auburn

Braden Smith wasn't a typical high-profile football recruit. Smith stayed out of the spotlight since being inundated with scholarship offers, preferring to focus on the garden he kept at his parent's home.

Smith's game, however, speaks with a certain brashness. He is an imposing presence, listed at 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds. He can bench press more than 500 pounds. and had little difficulty dominating his high school opponents in Kansas.

Smith supplements his physical strength with quickness. His narrow frame and nimble feet help make him a great pulling lead-blocker on the interior.

Missouri lost two seniors on the offensive line, left tackle Justin Britt and left guard Max Copeland. Smith would have given Missouri depth, even if he did not see the field his freshman year. Instead, Smith will suit up for the Auburn team that beat Missouri in the Southeastern Championship game.

  • Poona Ford, defensive tackle, Hilton Head Island, S.C.; committed to Texas

Poona Ford waited until Signing Day to chose a school, selecting Texas over Missouri and Purdue. Ford originally committed to Louisville then decommitted when head coach Charlie Strong left for Texas.

Ford has an explosive first step that can make the opposing lineman look like they're stepping out of a mud pit. His quickness stands out out when watching the 285-pounder take carries at fullback.

He excels at shedding blockers, sometimes two at once, to get into the backfield and make a play.

Missouri's defensive line was dominant last year — one of the best units in the nation. But Kony Ealy and unanimous All-American Michael Sam will both be in the NFL next year, and Ford would have helped fill those massive shoes.

  • Rafe Peavey, quarterback, Bolivar; committed to Arkansas

When James Franklin was injured for a handful of games last year, Missouri fans got a glimpse of the future with Maty Mauk. They also saw that a good backup quarterback can be the difference between the Cotton Bowl and the Liberty Bowl.

Rafe Peavey committed to Arkansas in the summer of 2012, wavered when there was a coaching change, then ultimately decided to stay at Arkansas.

Peavey would have been a perfect quarterback for Gary Pinkel's spread offense. He is a dual-threat, throwing for 2,294 and running for 1,557 as a senior. He's a constant threat to run with the ball, often forcing defenses to use a defender solely as a spy.

He completes a lot of short passes, but Peavey can throw a beautiful deep ball, an important skill to keep the defense honest against Missouri's quick-hitting pass attack.

Missouri, though, will survive at QB, as Mauk and the highly-touted Eddie Printz are still on the roster.

  • Dalvin Warmack, running back, Blue Springs; committed to Kansas State

As a junior, Dalvin Warmack averaged nine yards per carry. It was almost disappointing anytime he touched the ball and didn't end up with a first down. He notched 45 total touchdowns, won the Simone Award for best high school player in the Kansas City area, and his team won the Class 6 championship.

As a senior, Dalvin Warmack did it all over again. He ran for 2,223 yards, averaged 8.7 yards per carry, scored 29 touchdowns and led Blue Springs to its second straight Class 6 championship. He became the only player in the 31-year history of the Simone Award to win twice.

Standing just 5-foot-8, Warmack is a shifty runner with a penchant for cutting back to a hole. Sometimes he creates his own hole.

He runs in a similar style to Henry Josey, who declared for the NFL draft earlier this year. His legs are powerful, and his feet seem to never stop pattering into the turf. Like Josey, he is easy to grab but hard to stop.

Missouri would have loved to add another weapon to their arsenal of backfield threats.

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