The University of Missouri has had football success in the last two seasons that has not been seen in Columbia since the 1960s. As would be expected, this success has been followed by strong signing classes, and possibilities for even bigger coups in the near future.
It's said that recruiting success usually occurs a year or two after the football team has success. So with that being said, Missouri should start seeing major results on the recruiting trail around this year. They might not knock out a top-10 recruiting class, but Gary Pinkel and his staff have shown the ability to pick out diamonds in the rough.
Here are 10 potentials that Missouri would not only be lucky to sign by next spring, but are also likely to sign. Compared to where we thought Missouri was a couple months ago, the Tigers seem to have a ton of time and talent to work with in filling out this year's class.
10. Parker Graham, ** OL (6'7'', 260)
Although he is a relative unknown right now, Graham is a native of Webb City, Missouri. Webb City is the owner of several state titles and has sent numerous players to play in the collegiate ranks. One notable alum is former NFL DE Grant Winstrom.
Graham has an offer from Arkansas and Oklahoma State has shown interest in this wide-framed lineman, but Missouri could offer if they don't receive attention or commits from other more heralded linemen this winter. If the Tigers offer, they'd immediately be considered one of the favorites for the Missouri native.
9. Kendial Lawrence, *** RB (5'9'', 170)
Lawrence isn't one of the most talked about players from the Lone Star State, but he's putting up some monster numbers in Texas' playoffs. Missouri only recently got into the picture for his services but Lawrence really likes the Tigers.
Don't be surprised if Lawrence commits to Mizzou during his December 19th visit. Lawrence has had the Tigers at the top of his list since they offered him and he also might want to commit sooner than later with star recruits like Bryce Brown and Jeremy Smith looking at the Tigers.
8. Bryant Allen, *** ATH (6'0'', 180)
Bryant will be a two-sport athlete where ever he ends up playing his college ball. He's a basketball and football star for Maplewood High School in St. Louis, where his team is among the best in the state at both sports, largely because of Bryant.
Allen was considered a Mizzou lean for a long time, but has now begun to entertain Big 10 contenders such as Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. It's believed by many scouts that Allen has the skills to play football at the collegiate level, but that he WANTS to play basketball.
If Allen gets the nod from Missouri basketball coach Mike Anderson that he can play both sports at Mizzou, there's a strong chance that he's a Tiger.
7. Andrew Green, *** CB (6'1'', 180)
Green would be a perfect signing for Mizzou because he's a big, physical corner, somebody that could help the team with the coverage problems they seem to be prone to. He's rated as the No. 3 most physical corner in the 2009 class.
Green has made it clear that his decision will probably come down to Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and Missouri. He'll visit all three places and probably won't decide where he's headed until later in the recruiting season. But with the Tigers having as much success as any team in that group, Missouri has got to feel good if they can get Green on campus for a visit.
6. Josh Gordon, *** WR (6'4'', 211)
Gordon would be another talented receiver to add to Missouri's spread offense. He's got a big body with speed to boot, so his services would be popular in Columbia.
Lately it seems that Missouri has backed off on their pursuit of Gordon, but that has not changed their status with the talented wideout. Gordon claims that Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech are at the top of his list, and that instant playing time would be a major factor in his decision. If that's the case, Missouri would be the best fit out of those three.
5. Jarrell Harrison, *** S (6'2'', 210)
Harrison is a big, talented safety from the City College of San Francisco. Initially signing with UNLV out of high school, Harrison seems to have Arizona, Missouri, and UNLV around the top of his list, with Missouri being the current leader. He has yet to visit NC State before returning to Las Vegas.
Harrison would provide an instant impact to a Missouri secondary that will lose a lot of experience and leadership after this season. He's eligible to come to Columbia in the spring, so he can get familiar with the system and possibly start by next fall. He'd be a great signing by the Tigers.
4. Jeremy Smith, **** RB (6'0'', 206)
Smith committed to Oklahoma State in February, but many think that he's wavering on that pledge. Smith has talked heavily with Missouri coaches as the recruiting season has gone on, and recently named Missouri in his "top two" with Oklahoma State. Cowboy coaches can't feel comfortable.
The No. 4 prospect in the state of Oklahoma will take his official visit to Mizzou on December 12 along with a slew of other potentials. If the visit goes well, don't be shocked to see Smith make the switch to the Tigers that weekend. Smith would be a big steal for the Tigers and could contend for instant playing time next fall depending on who else signs with the team.
3. Chris McAllister, *** LB (6'2'', 215)
McAllister has had Missouri on top for a long time now, and it's considered just a matter of time before he signs with the Tigers. He has stated that he'd like to visit more schools before signing, but Mizzou looks like they're sitting pretty.
McAllister would be a big signing because of Missouri's lack of depth at linebacker. They lost two backups in the offseason to off the field issues, and have been injury prone at the position as well. McAllister can definitely come onto the field and compete for playing time if he's in Columbia next fall.
2. Ronnie Wingo, **** ATH (6'3'', 212)
Wingo is simply a phenomenal athlete. He's got the speed of a track star and the body of a linebacker. Rated as the No. 2 prospect in Missouri, Wingo has gotten attention from all over the country. Some sources, such as Rivals.com Jeremy Crabtree, feel that Wingo will almost definitely become a Tiger, but until that is announced, I won't count him as a part of the class.
Wingo has been looking closely at Minnesota, Illinois, and Alabama, and will have a spot on the field where ever he wants, where ever he ends up. It's believed that his parents have recently swung their support towards Mizzou, but Wingo has made it clear that he's most likely to announce his decision at the U.S. Army All-American game, or even afterwards.
Illinois is certainly the main competition, but Missouri looks like they're sitting pretty with this star as of now.
1. Shelden Richardson, ***** DT (6'5'', 295)
Richardson is a disgusting freak of nature. He actually returned kicks for his high school team, and could possibly play tight end in college. One thing's for sure; he'll be able to play where ever his heart desires when he steps foot on a college campus.
Big Shelden committed to Missouri a long time ago in his sophomore year, but he's definitely wide open as of now. He's looked seriously at Miami and Minnesota, but some people think he's just soaking in attention and free trips. Although Coach Pinkel might wish he'd stop, Richardson definitely loves the attention. He'll let the process play out and make his decision in the spring.
Richardson would be a monster signing for Missouri, both literally and figuratively. He's the fifth ranked overall prospect in the country according to Rivals.com, and he figures to definitely make an impact in Columbia, if that's where he ultimately decides to end up. Deemed a "soft verbal" to Mizzou right now, Pinkel would hate to lose him.
Honorable Mention: Bryce Brown (***** RB), Stephan Taylor (**** RB), Terry Hawthorne (**** WR), Chris Freeman (**** OL), Joshua Tatum (**** LB)
Missouri has got to be unpopular among other coaches. Brown, Taylor, and Hawthorne have all verballed to other schools. These are players that would be incredible, amazing, and every other positive adjective that I don't feel like thinking of for the Tigers to sign. But for numerous reasons, I don't see any of them ending up in Columbia as a Tiger.
Brown would obviously be the biggest signing, but he's currently verballed to Miami (Fla.) and has Oregon near his top as well. One item to watch is his older brother, Arthur, who is a freshman linebacker at the U. Arthur could probably come to Missouri and start immediately, so if he transfers, Bryce could follow.
Players like Taylor and Hawthorne, who are also committed, are contingent on how the Tigers play for the rest of the year. Hawthorne (like every other Illini faithful) was disappointed in the way that Illinois' season finished, and he's be an asset in the spread. Taylor might not qualify at Stanford, and is considered by some a Missouri lock if he doesn't.
Freeman and Tatum are simply big names that have expressed interest in the Tigers but probably won't end up in Columbia. Leaders for Freeman include Ohio State, Michigan, and Florida, while Tatum has been mum on who is leaders are after an official to Missouri with teammate Harrison.