Tigers hitting in-state goals for top recruits

Fifteen of the 17 in-state players offered scholarships accepted, leaving Gary Pinkel less than 2 percent short of his goal.
Friday, January 30, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:02 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

It happens every year. A football program will target top-flight players in recruiting, usually from its home state and inevitably, some of those players will choose to go elsewhere.

There is no single reason these players pass on their home schools. Some athletes want to get away from home, the prestige and talent at major programs draw others and some want a better chance to play right away.

In a recruiting season that has seen the Missouri coaching staff have more success than it has in a long time in the state, it still wasn’t perfect.

MU offered scholarships to 17 players in the state. Of those, 15 accepted the offer, a number that falls slightly less than 2 percent short of coach Gary Pinkel’s goal of getting 90 percent of the best players from Missouri.

Buckeyes, Cornhuskers nab two other recruits

When the nation’s recruits sign their letters of intent Wednesday, the two who spurned Missouri’s offer will sign with national powers. Both recruits were highly ranked and each came from an important recruiting area in Missouri.

Danny Heitert, of the STC Grid Report, said the two players had opposite experiences with Missouri.

“Those were two totally different situations,” Heitert said.

One of the players that turned down an offer didn’t consider the Tigers much of a contender and the other athlete came close to picking MU.

Brett Gallimore, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive tackle from Park Hill South, chose Michigan over Florida State after eliminating Missouri from his list early in the recruiting process.

Gallimore didn’t take an official visit to Missouri, but made an unofficial trip to Columbia in October for the Nebraska game. He took MU off his list soon after and chose the Wolverines on Dec. 24.

Heitert said Gallimore had stars in his eyes from the beginning and MU had little chance of making up the ground.

“It seemed that he had an inclination towards the Big 10,” Heitert said. “Who knows why, but it was there and it dominated his recruitment.”

Nick Patterson, a 6-2, 200-pound athlete from Hazelwood Central, visited Missouri the same weekend quarterback Chase Patton committed and came close to choosing the Tigers.

After narrowing his list to Missouri, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, UCLA and Ohio State, Patterson chose the Buckeyes on Jan. 13.

Patterson visited Ohio State’s camp over the summer and came away with something he didn’t expect: a scholarship offer.

Hazelwood Central coach John Pukala said it was difficult for Missouri to overcome the Buckeyes’ prestige.

“He couldn’t make a wrong decision either way,” Pukala said. “He had so many great schools to choose from, he just chose the one he liked the best.”

Tigers tight with offers

Not all of the highly-regarded talent in Missouri got an offer from the Tigers, though.

Michael Keenan, a 6-2, 220-pound linebacker and fullback from Oak Park High in Kansas City, had some interest in Missouri, interest that wasn’t mutual.

Despite his ranking as the No. 16 outside linebacker in the country according to, Keenan never received a scholarship offer from MU.

Heitert said Missouri didn’t see the potential in Keenan that other programs saw.

“Missouri really wanted to like Michael Keenan,” Heitert said. “Missouri just looked over the horizon with him and didn’t think he could develop some of the football skills that he would need to succeed in the Big 12.”

Keenan committed to Nebraska over Kansas State early in the recruiting process, but seemed to waver after the Cornhuskers’ coaching changes. He reaffirmed his commitment on Jan. 25.

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