As the newest members of the SEC, the University of Missouri Football program struggled last season to win in the conference being crushed by Georgia, Alabama and Texas A&M and ending the season at 5-7. They did pull off a great 4OT win in Knoxville against one of the more impressive quarterbacks in Tyler Bray and the Tennessee Vols, but that doesn’t make up for a less than impressive season on the whole including an embarrassing home loss to the Syracuse Orange in the waning minutes of the game. There were a lot of mixed emotions about going to the SEC from the Tigers’ fan base because of the strong increase in schedule strength, as well as some of them citing the obvious recruiting difficulties against conference powerhouses like Alabama and Georgia.
Missouri didn’t top the list of recruiting classes this year. Matter of fact, they actually fell two spots from last year’s class from 36 to 38. The real story behind their recruiting class is that they actually picked up some of the top St. Louis area recruits, who travel to Columbia, MO with a chip on their shoulder looking to better the program. Head Coach Gary Pinkel, has never been shy about his feelings of securing the best football players Missouri has to offer and this year, it looks like he might have took some dramatic steps to do just that as he locked up 6 of the area’s top prospects on Wednesday.
Aarion Penton, the 5’9″ 165lb star of the CBC Cadets, who’s playing earned him a simple description of ‘fast,’ saw both sides of the ball at CBC. He will be joining the Tigers this fall as a defensive back. Penton said when asked if he was curious about possibly being swayed by another program in the last few weeks, “No. It was Mizzou first, and it stayed Mizzou, so it was Mizzou all the way.” Penton cited being close to his family as one of the primary reasons in selecting the University of Missouri.
One of the most coveted St. Louis running backs recruited from the St. Louis Area was Chase Abbington from Fort Zumwalt South. Fortunately for the Tigers, the backfield monster, who checked in at 6’4″ 210 lbs and put up a staggering 40 time of 4.4 seconds, signed his intention letter with Missouri. His size, while markedly larger than most running backs, could translate into something special for the Tigers at various positions when combined with that impressive speed.
Rockwood Summit produced Eric Beisel, the 6’4″ 235lb very physical linebacker. Dubbed ‘Zues’ by his team mates, Beisel could see playing time this season. Beisel told reporters that he believed that the transition would be easy and said of his college choice “just the idea of all of us St.Louis kids coming together and we can make the difference, so why not Missouri?”
Up front on the offensive line, SLUH’s 6’4″ 275 lb Alec Abeln and Francis Howell’s 6’7″ 260 lb Harneet Gill say they are ready to improve the program in the trenches. Abeln says of his college choice, “when you get that opportunity to go to your dream school and play for the hometown, it is a blessing and it is really cool.” While Gill, at his current size and weight is impressive, he presently has a checked 40 yard dash time of 5.0 seconds which will make him a solid candidate for some down field blocking after his red shirt freshman year.
On the defensive side of the ball, Maplewood High School’s Antar Thompson will sign with the tigers as well. The 6’3″, 290 lb defensive tackle will reportedly attend junior college before joining the ranks of the Tigers, but Mizzou, which has been a hotbed for NFL D-line talent. Hopefully, this product of Maplewood will serve to add to the tremendous history surrounding the Tiger’s D-Line.
One of the biggest questions remaining before next season swirling is whether the star running back from John Burroughs High School, Ezekiel Elliott, decides to travel to Columbia, MO instead of Columbus, OH and Ohio State University. Elliott, who is listed at 6’00″ 205 lbs, posted a 40 time of 4.42 seconds, and while he has a polished skill set including excellent receiving skills, great outside and inside speed, he lacks the ability to push the pile. That being said, with room to grow, Elliott looks to be a promising offensive threat no matter where he signs.
Coach Pinkle enters his 12th year of coaching for the Tigers, and his second in the Southeastern Conference. After that dismal 5-7 2012 campaign, Pinkle needs to heal the numerous wounded on his roster in order to tip the record in favor of winning next year. After last season, the rumor mill churned out gossip that Pinkle was considering resigning. Coach Pinkle seemed to have other plans though telling reporters that he would begin planning for the 2013 season. Hopefully, this recruiting class marks the start of Mizzou legitimately joining the ranks of the SEC.
Topics: Aarion Penton, Alabama, Alec Ablen, Antar Thompson, CBC Cadets, Chase Abbington, Columbia, Columbus, Crimson Tide, Eric Beisel, Ezekiel Elliott, Football, Fort Zumwalt South, Francis Howell, Gary, Georgia Bulldogs, John Burroughs High School, Maplewood High School, Missouri, Missouri Tigers, Mizzou, Ohio State, Pinkle, Recruiting, Rockwood Summit, Tennessee Vols