If Missouri gets any faster in the recruiting chase, its speedometer might break.
In the past three weeks, MU has received seven oral commitments from some of the top talent in the Midwest. The flurry of activity brings the Tigers’ total of commitments for its 2004 class to 15.
Missouri recruiting analyst Jon Kirby, of PowerMizzou.com, said the Tigers’ 8-4 record and hard work are paying immediate dividends in recruiting, especially in state.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the borders are shrinking,” Kirby said. “No longer can teams come in here and pluck the best players out without a heck of a battle from Gary Pinkel and his staff.”
Quincy Butler, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound cornerback from Tyler (Texas) Junior College, is Missouri’s most recent pledge, committing Tuesday.
Butler gives the Tigers the kind of playmaking, shutdown cornerback it has lacked the past few years. He will join free safety Nino Williams II, his close friend and former teammate at Tyler, when he signs his letter of intent Feb. 6. Butler signed with Texas Tech out of Roosevelt (Texas) High.
Williams said he asked the coaching staff to look at Butler because of Butler’s tremendous talent.
“If I didn’t think he could help this program, I wouldn’t have told coach to recruit him,” Williams said. “Not saying that I required him or anything, but he’s a good football player and he should be able to help the program out.”
Butler could be the gem of this season’s recruiting class, but there are other big-time players Pinkel and his staff are pursuing.
Rock Bridge quarterback Chase Patton and Rockhurst tailback Tony Temple are considering Missouri among the finalists for their services.
Patton, the No. 14 quarterback in ESPN.com’s latest rankings, visited Iowa on Dec. 5 and has visited Tennessee and UCLA. Kansas State is Patton’s other finalist. He could make a decision within the next three weeks. Kirby said his best guess is that Patton will choose between Missouri and Tennessee.
Temple, ESPN.com’s No. 2 tailback, has narrowed his choices to MU and Kansas State.
Friday and Saturday were big days for the Tigers in recruiting. Many of Missouri’s top targets were in town for official visits, including Patton and Temple.
Other top players from around the state will take official visits this weekend as well.
Quarterback Darrell Jackson, from Webster Groves High and safety Nick Patterson from Hazelwood Central are among the group visiting Columbia. Eleven recruits scheduled official visits this weekend and attended Missouri’s practice Saturday morning.
Rock Bridge linebacker Van Alexander and Rockhurst defensive back Steve Redmond, both of whom have committed to MU, attended.
Kirby said having players who have committed mixed with uncommitted targets could be a huge advantage for the Tigers.
“That strategy can be a real plus for Missouri,” Kirby said. “They have a chance to wrap it all up this weekend and end this with a bang.”
Offensive lineman Ryan Madison of South Harrison High in Bethany started the Tigers’ hot streak Nov. 17 when he gave Pinkel an oral commitment. Madison is the second South Harrison player in as many years to commit to Missouri. Freshman Tyler Luellen arrived at MU in August and redshirted this season.
Aaron O’Neal, a linebacker from Parkway North, committed the next day, joining Alexander and New Madrid Central’s Edgar Givens as the future of MU’s linebacker corps.
Receiver Julius Densmore from East St. Louis High, tailback Jimmy Jackson from Caruthersville High and offensive lineman Aaron Saunders of Jay High in San Antonio also committed to the Tigers in the past two weeks.
With the way things are going for Missouri on the field and the coaching staff’s relentless recruiting efforts, this recruiting class could be one of the Big 12 Conference’s best.
“This class could be out of this world,” Kirby said. “Between winning and going to a bowl and the way the staff outworks everyone, they could have a really talented group.”