COLUMBIA — The Missouri football team’s future is being influenced by its present.
Tigers quarterback Chase Daniel’s stellar performance on the field this season, along with MU posting its best record in 38 years, helped convince high school quarterback Blaine Gabbert to orally commit to the Tigers after Saturday’s victory against Texas A&M.
Gabbert, a 6-foot-4, 226-pound, three-year starter at Parkway West High School in St. Louis, is currently ranked on rivals.com as the nation’s third best pro-style quarterback for the 2008 recruiting class and the 23rd best high school senior in the country. Gabbert threw for 1,523 yards and 20 touchdowns against just 7 interceptions in his junior season.
During recruiting visits to MU, Gabbert got to know Daniel.
“They have a really good relationship,” Bev Gabbert, Blaine’s mother, said. “Chase has been really gracious with his time and taking Blaine under his wing.”
Through visits and time together at summer football camps, Daniel was able to sell Gabbert on the Tigers’ program, even after Gabbert looked elsewhere. For Gabbert, the chance to work with a former NFL coach had led him to choose Nebraska over the home-state Tigers in May. But the relationship he had developed with Daniel, MU coach Gary Pinkel and assistant coach David Yost left a good impression on Gabbert. The two sides kept in contact, even when Gabbert had become certain he would be attending Nebraska.
“He was always high on Missouri but he went to Nebraska because of the kinds of coaches they had,” Mike Roth, Gabbert’s high school coach, said.
But when the future of the Nebraska program and head coach Bill Callahan became uncertain, Gabbert re-opened his recruitment.
His mother said she had noticed that her son didn’t seem certain about his decision.
“From a mother’s perspective, things didn’t seem to be gelling with him,” Bev Gabbert said. “I wrote it off as maybe cold feet and ignored it.”
Blaine Gabbert sat behind the south goal posts at Memorial Stadium for the past three Tigers home games, finally telling Pinkel and Yost immediately after Saturday’s 40-26 victory that he would commit to Missouri.
“The relationship he developed with Chase and the opportunity to learn from him for a season is valuable for Blaine and is what convinced him to commit,” Roth said.
Gabbert’s decision might further boost the Tigers’ recruiting, too. He may have a similar effect on other recruits that Daniel had on him, especially with other Nebraska commitments rethinking their choices.
“I think players want to play with other talented players. So, I think he will try and do some recruiting for the program,” Bev Gabbert said.