Rock Bridge Martez Manuel runs with the ball (copy)

Rock Bridge safety/receiver Martez Manuel is among the 22 players who signed national letters of intent with the University of Missouri on the first day of the early signing period Wednesday.

The Missouri football family grew significantly on Wednesday.

Twenty-two new Tigers officially became members of Missouri’s 2019 recruiting class on the first day of the early signing period, including Clemson transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant and TCU transfer quarterback Shawn Robinson, a former 4-star recruit. Six of the new Tigers are from Missouri; five are from St. Louis and one — Rock Bridge safety Martez Manuel — is from Columbia.

Rivals.com ranked Missouri’s recruiting class 31st nationally, which is higher than all but two of the Tigers’ classes over the last decade. Rivals.com had Missouri ranked 21st in 2010 and 27th in 2015.

247sports.com ranked the Tigers’ 2019 recruiting class 33rd, and ESPN had it at 37th. All three recruiting services have Missouri’s new class ranked 13th of the 14 teams in the Southeastern Conference after the first day of the early signing period.

In addition to Robinson, the Tigers’ new commits include two other 4-star recruits — defensive back Jalani Williams from Parkway North High School in St. Louis and quarterback Connor Bazelak of Dayton, Ohio (who is given 4 stars by ESPN and 3 stars by rivals.com and 247sports) — and 19 3-star recruits. There are no 5-star players in the class.

“I’m excited about getting the guys up here to see what they can bring to the table,” said outside linebackers coach Brian Odom.

The transfer of Robinson on Tuesday night set the table for the signing period. The 6-foot-2, 228-pound quarterback followed Bryant and adds to Missouri’s depth at the position over the next few years.

“We’re excited about getting Shawn in,” head coach Barry Odom said. “He won’t be available until a year after next, but we’ve got great competition at the position now with him and Connor.”

The lone non-transfer quarterback recruit for the Tigers is, as Odom mentioned, Connor Bazelak. He is a 6-3, 215-pound QB out of Dayton, Ohio, and Odom already likes his poise.

“I know he had torn his hamstring or pulled his hamstring before his state championship,” Odom said, adding Bazelak still played in the game. “He showed a lot in doing that, and we’re happy to have him.”

Ten of Missouri’s new commits come on the offensive side of the ball, including tight end Niko Hea, who fully committed Monday. Hea’s 6-5, 220-pound frame adds size and depth to the Tiger tight end position behind redshirt sophomore Albert Okwuegbunam and freshman Messiah Swinson, who stand at 6-5 and 6-7, respectively.

“The holy grail of tight ends is one that can block like a lineman and catch like a receiver,” Missouri receivers coach AJ Ofodile said. “(Hea) has a lot of potential to be big and play big.”

From a defensive standpoint, Missouri signed six defensive backs, Rock Bridge’s Manuel, 6-1 and 185 pounds, among them.

As a former Rock Bridge coach, Ofodile is excited about Manuel making the same journey down Providence Road.

“I knew Martez as a pup,” Ofodile said. “He’s got a lot of determination, and I’m not surprised he’s turned into the player he is. I’m happy for him.”

The Tigers’ defensive backfield also added the 4-star safety Williams as well as 3-star safety-nickel hybrid Stacy Brown of Duncanville High School in Duncanville, Texas.

“(Jalani’s) got a lot of size and speed potential. Stacy’s got unlimited athletic potential,” Brian Odom said. “You can look at athletic and physical capabilities all day. At the end of the day, you’ve got to have guys that can cover.”

On the defensive line, Missouri is reloading its interior with the additions of Isaiah McGuire (6-4, 234 pounds) of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Chris Daniels (6-4, 315 pounds) of Euless, Texas.

The biggest gain of the day for the defensive line was Darius Robinson, a 6-6, 250-pound end from Canton, Michigan. Michigan, Minnesota and Colorado heavily pursued Robinson, but the three-star recruit chose Missouri on Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m ready to get these guys in and acclimated,” defensive line coach Brick Haley said. “We’re losing guys — three tackles — so it’s good to get these young guys, and we’re excited to have them.”

Though the early signing period extends to Friday, Missouri can be happy with the group that it added Wednesday.

Much of the Missouri staff’s focus is still on Dec. 31 and the Liberty Bowl, but Odom couldn’t help but stress the importance of the program’s recruitment success. 

“Now the process turns to getting them on campus and putting them in the position of being their best,” Odom said. “Each of them has different skill sets, but collectively, they have all shown to a person that they are very competitive. They love to play ball and they’re excited to be Missouri Tigers.”

Complete List of Wednesday’s Signees

Name, Pos., Ht., Wt., Hometown (High School/Prev. School )

Connor Bazelak, QB, 6-3, 205, Dayton, Ohio (Archbishop Alter)

C.J. Boone, WR, 6-3, 170, St. Louis, Missouri (Parkway North)

Stacy Brown, Nickel, 6-2, 190, Duncanville, Texas (Duncanville)

Kelly Bryant, QB, 6-3, 225, Calhoun Falls, South Carolina (Wren/Clemson)

Jack Buford, OL, 6-4, 307, St. Louis, Missouri (Lutheran North)

Ishmael Burdine, CB, 6-1, 181, Slidell, Louisina (Slidell)

Chris Daniels, DL, 6-4, 315, Euless, Texas (Trinity/Copiah-Lincoln CC/Texas)

Luke Griffin, OL, 6-5, 310, Chatsworth, Georgia (North Murray)

Aidan Harrison, Nickel, 6-3, 180, New Lothrop, Michigan (New Lothrop)

Niko Hea, TE, 6-5, 220, St. Louis, Missouri (CBC)

Martez Manuel, S, 6-1, 185, Columbia, Missouri (Rock Bridge)

Maurice Massey, WR, 6-3, 180, St. Louis, Missouri (Kirkwood)

Isaiah McGuire, DL, 6-5, 260, Tulsa, Oklahoma (Union)

Johnathan Nance, WR, 6-0, 190, Perkinston, Mississippi (Gulfport/Gulf Coast CC/ Arkansas)

Devin Nicholson, LB, 6-3, 216, Detroit, Michigan (Cass Tech)

Jamie Pettway, LB, 6-2, 234, Albany, Georgia (Westover)

Darius Robinson, DL, 6-6, 250, Canton, Michigan (Canton)

Shawn Robinson, QB, 6-2, 225, DeSoto, Texas (DeSoto/TCU)

Thalen Robinson, OL, 6-7, 315, Arlington, Texas (Bowie)

Chris Shearin, CB, 5-11, 187, Suffolk, Virginia (King’s Fork/IMG Academy)

Anthony Watkins, RB, 6-0, 200, Fort Worth, Texas (South Hills)

Jalani Williams, S, 6-2, 175, St. Louis, Missouri (Parkway North)

  • Reporter, Fall 2017 & Winter 2018. Sports Editor, Spring 2018. Studying print + digital journalism. Reach me at djs3c7@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

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