Missouri Tigers Football 2016 Recruiting Wish List


The 2015 Missouri Tigers Football recruiting class was one the best in recent memory, capping National Signing Day off with singing their top prize Terry Beckner Jr. It was no secret Gary Pinkel made Beckner his top priority for the 2015 class, and because of the time Pinkel and his staff spent recruiting him, it led to Beckner eventually signing for the Black & Gold.

The 2016 class is a little unclear on who the Tigers will prioritize, but here is my five player wish list and who I think Missouri should spend the most time recruiting. These five players are some of the best in the country and Mizzou has a possibility of bringing to Columbia and are in no order of importance. They all ought to be top priorities.

1) A.J. Taylor -Athlete. Rockhurst HS, Kansas City, MO

A.J. Taylor is the consensus top prospect in the state of Missouri in 2016 and has the ability to play running back, wide receiver, or defensive back. I saw him play in person when Rockhurst played at Rock Bridge and I learned very quickly how smoothly he runs with the football. He has an impressive ability to elude defenders, and has soft hands to catch passes out of the backfield.

I think Taylor is best suited on the offensive side as he is dangerous when the ball is in his hands. I see some similarity in recent Mizzou grad and NFL hopeful Marcus Murphy. Though Taylor is a little bigger than Murphy was (5-foot-11, 190 pounds), he can do things similar to what Murphy did. Remember, at the beginning of the season the coaches planned for Murphy to lineup at receiver in order for him to get more touches, though that planned was derailed when Morgan Steward was unable to play last year.

I can see the offensive coaches having the same mentality towards Taylor. In a year that top end talent is somewhat down in the state, Taylor is a must-get for Gary Pinkel and the Tigers.

2) Josh King -Defensive End. Hinsdale South HS, Darien, IL

Out of the five players on this list, Josh King might be the most unrealistic to eventually wind up in Columbia. That shouldn’t stop the coaching staff to make him a top priority. King is a top 60 player according to Rivals.com and has the possibility of becoming an elite 5-star prospect with summer camps and combines. He holds offers from top programs like LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame among many others.

He already has a Division 1 body at 6-foot-6 230 pounds. The reason he may appear a little slim right now is because he is an Illinois state champion wrestler at 230 pounds. He can easily bulk up and be a force early in his college career. He’s listed at defensive end right now but I think he’ll eventually be big enough to move to the interior on the d-line.

He is athletic enough to play tight end on Hinsdale South’s offense and would be a top prospect at that position if he wanted to. Again, this is a bit unrealistic but that’s why this is a wish list. I just think if anyone could sell Mizzou’s d-line it’s Craig Kuligowski. Could you imagine King and Beckner on the same d-line? Give him a call Kul, and sell him #DLineZOU.

Feb 4, 2015; East St. Louis, MO, USA; Terry Beckner Jr. announces his decision to sign with Missouri Tigers football during a press conference for National Signing day at East St. Louis High School. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

3) Nathan Smith -Offensive Line. Mesa HS, Murrieta, CA

Nathan Smith is a name that’s been skyrocketing up the national recruiting rankings. Rivals.com has him as the 130th overall player in their latest recruiting rankings. Missouri was one of the first to offer Smith and since they have, big programs like Oregon, UCLA, and Arizona have extended offers. He has massive size (6-foot-7 276 pounds) and has the frame to get even bigger and stronger.

Whoever he lines up against in the next few years is in for a rough ride as his HUDL film repeatedly shows him tossing defenders like rag dolls. There is no doubt that Smith will continue to add offers over the summer and Missouri will have tough competition to land his services. I think that because the Tigers offered him early on, they are in good shape to land a visit from him. Anything can happen once a prospect visits a campus and Pinkel will give Smith a hard sell if/when he comes to Columbia. It may be tough for a California kid to embrace Missouri Tigers Football as home (especially during the winter) but the Tigers will be right in the thick of things to land the big mauler from Murrieta, California.

4) Tucker McCann -Kicker. O’Fallon HS, O’Fallon, IL

A kicker on a wish list? Yes, Tucker McCann from nearby O’Fallon, IL is not only deserving of the offer he got from the Tigers, but should be made a priority with Andrew Baggett set to graduate after next year. McCann has a boot and few kickers are able to hit 45, 50 yard field goals out of high school, but I don’t think any can hit a 60 yarder in a game. McCann did just that last year as a junior. Now it’s not like he’s going to hit a 60 yarder every game, but it proves that he has range.

Though he hasn’t been perfect, Baggett kept Missouri in games the last two years because of his big leg. With that big leg there is always a possibility for points. McCann can step in for Baggett and the Tigers won’t miss a beat. Points are hard to come by in the SEC and many games can come down to a field goal. 2015 signee Corey Fatony will be punting right away in 2015.  It’s not flashy when a program takes two exclusive special teams players in back-to-back years but it’s good that Pinkel is prioritizing field position and the three points from field goals. Sometimes that may end up being the difference in a close game.

5) Amani Bledsoe -Defensive End. Lawrence HS, Lawrence, KS

Of the two defensive linemen listed, Amani Bledsoe’s body may be a little more ready for college football at 6-foot-5 265 pounds than Josh King. That’s not a knock on King, both will be monster d-linemen when their college careers are finished. I can see Bledsoe in the d-line rotation right away if he comes to Columbia.

Missouri Tigers
Missouri Tigers /

Missouri Tigers

For the last two years there have been a pair of d-linemen the Tigers had that controlled the line of scrimmage and have the others reap the benefits of the extra attention those two were shown. In 2013 it was Michael Sam and Kony Ealy, in 2014 it was Markus Golden and Shane Ray, and next year it will likely be Harold Brantley and Josh Augusta. When those two are done it’ll like be Terry Beckner Jr. and someone else.

Bledsoe can come in and make that kind of impact. He’s just too big and skilled to have to play another year of high school football. Tiger fans would love to pluck a top prospect right in rival Kansas’ backyard. King and Beckner would be great building blocks for a d-line, but could you imagine a King-Beckner-Bledsoe combination. Offensive line coaches can’t have their guys double team all of them, and all may require double teams to keep them off the quarterback. Kuligowski should sit King and Bledsoe down and bring Beckner in the room and talk about the possibilites of what #DLineZOU could be.

Missouri Tigers Football had a very strong 2015 class and that laid the foundation for the team for the next few years. Now it’s about building on that foundation.

All five of these players hold Missouri offers, and if the Tigers can land even just three of these guys, they will be high up in the national recruiting rankings come next February.

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