With summer workouts well underway and fall camp on the horizon, Missouri football coach Barry Odom met with the media Wednesday to discuss a number of topics.
On the recruiting trail
Missouri is on one of its best runs in terms of recruiting, as Odom has already gotten verbal commitments from 10 players in the 2020 class, including six from the St. Louis-area.
It was only two years ago that the Tigers failed to sign an in-state player, and in the 2018 class, Odom whiffed on players from St. Louis.
In the 2019 class, though, Odom began building momentum in Missouri, and it's now paying dividends. The 2019 class features six in-state recruits, with five coming from St. Louis. And for the 2020 class, Odom is already locking down the football hotbed to the east with six months left until the signing period in December.
"Number one, it's the continuing work of building relationships. Staff continuity. Recruiting by position has helped us. And then also getting guys on campus earlier," Odom said. "I think all of those factors go into it."
That doesn't mean the recruitment process has been easy, though.
With the accelerated recruiting calendar, Odom and his staff are busy getting recruits on campus during a time that used to be geared toward focusing on current teams. He doesn't have as much time to build those relationships, and recruiting rules have stopped him from getting much face time with the recruits he's now bringing to campus.
"We've had guys that visited for official visits in April, May and June that I've never talked to in person," Odom said. "Foundationally, that's a problem with our sport."
His 2020 haul shows he's been able circumvent those challenges, but that doesn't mean he's happy with the entire process.
Dealing with the transfer portal
A number of high-profile players from across the country have entered the transfer portal, but at Missouri, the team has largely been able to keep its group together.
Terry Petry, a defensive back from the Tigers' 2017 class, is the only player from the team that's officially entered the transfer portal. Petry decided he wants to be closer to home, a decision Odom said he'll support during the transfer process.
No seniors have entered the portal, even with the sanctions still casting a shadow over the season (though they still have until Aug. 1 to make up their minds).
Odom credits the culture he, his staff and his players have built at Missouri as reasons why the continuity has been so solid, even though he knows the number won't always be so low. But he also worries about the number of players wanting to transfer compared to the number of spots available.
"There's going to be a bunch of guys that think that they're going to leave and go somewhere else, but nobody can take them," Odom said. "I think it will level off a little bit, but a bunch of the kids that are in that portal, I don't know that they understand (that)."
A handful of injured players are working their way back to full health, Odom said.
The biggest name to hit the injury list last year was tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who missed the last four games of the 2018 season after suffering a shoulder injury against Florida. Odom said Okwuegbunam has looked more explosive in his movements and seems to be "on a mission" mentally after spending a lot of time on the sidelines.
Jalani Williams, Missouri's highest-rated recruit in the 2019 class, is "not 100% but really close," according to Odom. Williams had surgery in March after sustaining a foot injury during spring practice, but Odom said Williams is doing just about every drill and should be right in the mix at safety once he's fully cleared.
Other Tigers who are recovering on schedule include Adam Sparks (leg stress fracture, missed the last five games of 2018), Daniel Parker (torn labrum) and Chad Bailey (torn ACL).
- Odom has no new information on a couple of topics involving the NCAA: the NCAA told Odom last week that it has yet to get to TCU transfer Shawn Robinson's request for a transfer waiver. The NCAA sanction appeal also hasn't been decided on, but Odom said that could be wrapped up by early fall.
- The Tigers made the top 25 in a number of preseason polls, and although Odom doesn't want his players to let the rankings go to their heads, he is more than happy to see his team get some recognition. "Hell yes, it’s awesome. I’ll take it any week we can get it," he said.
- The south end zone project is nearing completion, and that includes the fireplace in Odom's new office. Odom thinks it's a nice touch to the decor, but don't mistake it for something that was high on his wish list. "Look at me. Do you think I requested it?" he said to some laughs.