ST. LOUIS — There were no big Signing Day surprises for the Mizzou football team Wednesday, but the Tigers added two new commitments and were able to hold on to a couple others who could have made late switches.
That was good news for Gary Pinkel, who announced 28 Missouri signees, including five who are already enrolled.
"I’m real excited about today," Pinkel said. "This is always an important day for every football program in the country because it’s really the future of Mizzou and I feel very, very good about our class. We always talk about, in classes, is first of all, you have goals by positions and you want to make sure you hit your goals. And I thought we hit about everything we needed to hit and it worked out really, really well."
The Tigers’ recruiting haul is ranked 32nd nationally by Scout.com, 35th by Rivals.com and 39th by 247Sports.com.
Scout rated Mizzou’s class as the 11th-best in the Southeastern Conference, ahead of Arkansas, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Rivals ranked Mizzou 12th in the SEC ahead of only Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. 247Sports rated the Tigers 13th in the SEC with Vandy 14th.
Those rankings don’t mean anything to Pinkel, who has never had recruiting classes ranked among the top 20 nationally, but whose program has continued to develop players and win games.
"As always, we believe in our evaluation system," Pinkel said. "We do what we do. I think that’s important for people to understand. We’ve had a system in place since the day we got here. We believe in it. We don’t reflect on any stars. That’s never come up on any player we’ve ever recruited. I know some programs and staffs look at that and they are aiming to hit high with the perception of their recruiting classes, but we don’t ever do that. And we’re pleased with the results of what we get and the kids that we want and these kids are the kids we wanted."
Missouri’s top recruits, according to Rivals, are offensive lineman Andy Bauer from De Smet Jesuit High School in suburban St. Louis and wide receiver Nate Brown from North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga.
Bauer, who is expected to play guard for the Tigers, was one of 10 signees from the state of Missouri. The 6-foot-3, 295-pounder is rated by Rivals as the eighth-best guard prospect in the senior class and the 137th-best prospect overall.
"He’s very talented, very bright and we expect him to come in and be an outstanding player here," Pinkel said.
Brown, a 6-3, 205-pounder, is rated by Rivals as the 49th-best wide receiver prospect in the Class of 2014. He had a breakout senior season at North Gwinnett, catching 61 passes for 1,081 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Bauer and Brown were Missouri’s only two four-star recruits according to Rivals. Scout rated Bauer, Brown, outside linebacker Brandon Lee (Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis) and cornerback Raymond Wingo (St. Louis University High School) as four-star prospects.
The two new commitments both came from Jacksonville, Fla.
DeSean Blair is a three-star 6-foot-2 wide receiver who had been committed to Louisville but visited Missouri officially last weekend. He signed with the Tigers over Nebraska and Louisville.
Spencer Williams, a three-star, 6-4, 220-pound defensive end, was committed to Cincinnati but made a Signing Day switch to sign with the Tigers. He also took an official visit to Columbia last weekend.
"Things change quick so you have to have plans and you have to have back-up plans. And you also find out about players that you really didn’t know about," Pinkel said when asked about the late additions to the recruiting class. "… I think you keep a lot of people on your lists but we also have standards that we’re going to hit. We’re never going to sign a player just to sign a player. These guys are really good athletes and we feel very fortunate that we had an opportunity to get them at the end."
TWO WHO FOLLOWED THROUGH
The two players who Mizzou had to hang on to were three-star prospects Tavon Ross, a safety from Georgia, and Rocel McWilliams, a defensive end from Florida.
"I think people respect our program and I think they go back and evaluate and look and a bunch of people tried to get in on several players," Pinkel said, though not specifically speaking about Ross or Williams. "We were fortunate to hang on to them."
Ross made a verbal commitment to Mizzou back in August but attracted late scholarship offers from Alabama, Georgia and Miami. He took official visits to Georgia and Miami in January before visiting Mizzou, but stayed with his pledge and signed with the Tigers.
"We were concerned a little bit because a lot of people came in on him," said Pinkel, who spoke with Ross on Tuesday night. "… We knew he was a heck of a player. I think that people went back and evaluated his senior film they went, wow, this guy’s really good."
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McWilliams committed to Pinkel’s squad in April but received a late scholarship offer from Florida and took an official visit to look at the Gators in January before his official to Missouri.
ONE WHO GOT AWAY
Mizzou’s recruiting class was in the books by 11 a.m. Wednesday.
The only player still thought to be considering the Tigers was Poona Ford, a three-star 288-pound defensive tackle from South Carolina.
Ford had committed to Charlie Strong and his coaching staff at Louisville but reopened his recruitment in January. He then took official visits to Texas, Purdue and Missouri.
But Ford announced on ESPNU that he was signing with Texas.
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