Mizzou coaches are hustling to make Signing Day a winner

Tigers coach Gary Pinkel needs stud players to win. He and his staff are working on it.

Jasen Vinlove/Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The fax machine at the Mizzou football team’s office will be humming on National Signing Day next Wednesday. Until then, the Tigers’ coaching staff is trying to add as much talent to its recruiting class as it can.

Missouri already has five recruits signed and enrolled in school early: quarterback Marvin Zanders, linebacker Brandon Lee, offensive lineman Michael Fairchild and defensive backs Kenya Dennis and Logan Cheadle.

The Tigers have verbal commitments from 21 more players, according to Scout.com’s recruiting database, with the most recent coming last weekend from wide receiver Keyon Dilosa of Round Rock, Texas.

At the moment, Missouri’s recruiting class is ranked 31st nationally and 10th in the Southeastern Conference by Scout.com. Rivals.com ranks the Tigers’ class 35th nationally and 12th among SEC schools.

The success of coach Gary Pinkel’s squad last season, and in previous years, shows that Missouri can win football games with players who weren’t viewed as elite-level prospects by recruiting services.


Pinkel has said repeatedly during his tenure in Columbia that he believes in his team’s evaluation system. Winning football games is about finding talented players and then developing them.

Mizzou’s coaches have been busy since the Cotton Bowl trying to fill the final few spots in this recruiting class and to make sure the verbal commitments they already have remain committed and sign next Wednesday.

That part of it goes both ways. Mizzou also continues to recruit players who have made commitments elsewhere.

One of Missouri’s official visitors last weekend was O’Fallon (Ill.) High senior defensive end Dewayne Hendrix, a Tennessee commitment who had considered the Tigers before pledging to the Volunteers. But Hendrix, a 6-foot-4, 260-pounder who is rated by Rivals.com as the 78th-best prospect nationally in this class, is still expected to sign with Tennessee.

Defensive end is an area of need for Mizzou, which lost Kony Ealy when he elected to forgo his final season of eligibility to enter the 2014 NFL Draft.

Defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski was recruiting in Alabama on Tuesday when he offered a scholarship to defensive end Walter Brady, a 6-4, 242-pounder from Florence High School who had made an earlier verbal commitment to Middle Tennessee State.

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Brady told Scout.com affiliate website ShowMeMizzou.com that Mizzou was his "dream school" and that he will take an official visit to Missouri this weekend.

The Tigers also extended a scholarship offer Tuesday to Tampa (Fla.) Gaither High School defensive back Amani Oruwariye, who had previously committed to the old coaching staff at Vanderbilt. Oruwariye now must decide which of the schools recruiting him to visit this weekend.

Another player Missouri is attempting to get to Columbia for an official visit before Signing Day is defensive tackle Poona Ford from Hilton Head, S.C. Ford had committed to the old coaching staff at Louisville and is now weighing his options.

Mizzou coaches still have plenty of work to do before Signing Day, when they will find out if all that labor has paid off.

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter (@natelatsch) or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com.