Biggest Needs: Missouri was exposed in their first season in the SEC, but the good news is that only three starters are lost on offense. While there are needs across the board on both sides of the ball, the biggest need on offense is in the trenches. Due to multiple injuries in 2012, Missouri underachieved mightily, and the No. 12 offense in the country in 2011 regressed to the No. 98 offense in ‘12. Part of that has to do with better defenses, but the bigger problem on offense was with the line and the quarterback. There was little to no depth along the offensive line, and the players who were plugged in weren’t difference makers. However, freshman Evan Boehm is one player who held his own. One of the major notable players who will not return is senior running back Kendial Lawrence. The 1,000-yard rusher leaves a big hole in the Tigers’ running game, with Henry Josey’s future still uncertain.
Unlike the offense, Missouri’s defense held its own. And it started up front with tackle Sheldon Richardson, who entered the NFL Draft early. Along with Richardson, three other top tacklers linebacker Will Ebner, linebacker Zaviar Gooden and corner Kip Edwards are also gone in ‘13. In total, the Tigers lose two defensive linemen, two linebackers and one corner.
Gary Pinkel needs more depth on both lines of scrimmage for the future to keep Missouri from lagging behind even Kentucky, who had a better finish than the Tigers in the East.
Needs Met: Pinkel signed two quarterbacks who are early enrollees in dual-threat Trent Hosick, who fits the Tigers traditional spread scheme, and pro-style Eddie Printz. Printz could be the most underrated prospect in the class. The kid has a rifle and comes from a football family. But the Tigers only signed three offensive linemen in the entire 20-man class. And with the injury concerns still surrounding Henry Josey at running back, Pinkel missed on a running back, too, although Chase Abbington is expected to play the position.
The Tigers signed five defensive linemen, headlined by tackles Josh Augusta, local product AJ Logan and Antar Thompson. One player won’t replace Richardson’s productivity in one season, but Augusta certainly has that kind of upside in the future. However, Logan has better size to play right away. Missouri signed three safeties but only one linebacker. The Tigers needed to add some depth in the secondary, and they addressed safety but were lacking at corner and linebacker, two positions that must be addressed in 2014.
Biggest Get: The biggest fish for Pinkel and the Tigers in the ‘13 class is defensive tackle Josh Augusta. The staff targeted the Illinois native, and they landed their man. Augusta is 6-5, 295 pounds and should get a chance to compete for immediate playing time. He has a big future at Mizzou.
Biggest Miss: Any time programs miss on the top in-state star, it’s a big deal and a big miss. And Missouri missed on running back Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot signed with Ohio State, and he would have played immediately for the Tigers.
Final Evaluation: The signing class overall was a letdown for the Tigers, and they finished with just 20 signees and ranked last in the SEC, behind Kentucky. Although Pinkel has been known for developing underrated players in the past, such as two-star Sean Weatherspoon and three-star Aldon Smith, Missouri should be recruiting better backed by the new SEC brand. Missouri doesn’t produce the number or caliber of players of other states, so they have to expand their brand and recruit the Southeast more. But first they may have to prove they can win, and that will take resuscitating one of the better offenses from 2011.
Final Grade: C
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