For Missouri, it’s tough to recruit in the SEC. The Tigers can be a very exciting program at times, and there’s plenty of talent both in state and in the surrounding regions, but Mizzou does face some challenges.
First of all, recruiting against other SEC schools is daunting, even though Mizzou has had a relatively decent run since joining the conference. Missouri hasn’t been great lately, but keep in mind that the Tigers went 12-2 and 11-3 in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Still, taking on the likes of Alabama, LSU, Florida and others on the recruiting trail is no simple task.
Even more than that, though, Missouri recruiting is hampered by the fact that due to location, it’s right in the middle of a recruiting crossroads. Iowa has no problem traveling a few hours down south to recruit the state and Nebraska isn’t that far away and has a good presence in the state as well. For recruits near Kansas City, Kansas State and Kansas are draws, and Arkansas, Oklahoma, Illinois and Tennessee all have borders with the state.
Case in point, check out the top ten 2017 recruits from the state. Only one, athlete Daron Davis from Kansas City, Mo. (Lee Summit North) is committed to Mizzou. Nebraska, Oklahoma, Illinois (two recruits), Kansas State and Arkansas have all received a commitment from a member of the state’s top ten.
In the 2016 cycle, Missouri did land three of the state’s top recruits, but schools such as Nebraska, Iowa State, Kansas State, Northwestern and even Wisconsin were able to pick up some big commitments from the Show Me State.
So yes, it’s hard to recruit at Mizzou, and that’s what makes Davis such an important commitment for the Tigers.
According to the industry generated 247Sports Composite rankings, he’s the No. 24 ranked athlete in the nation and the No. 3 recruit in the state of Missouri. The athlete tag can sometimes be confusing, but really it’s a simple thing: Recruits who play multiple positions at the high school level and project to be able to do the same thing in college generally receive the athlete tag.
What does that tell you about a recruit? One, versatility and athleticism. Of course, that sounds a bit redundant that an athlete recruit would be athletic, but its an important thing to bring up. As football players continue to get bigger, faster and stronger sooner, college football coaches are looking for not just good football players, but great athletes. In fact, there’s a continuing trend in football of players with little or even no football experience getting opportunities simply because of their athleticism in another sport. Think basketball players becoming tight ends.
That’s the main draw of an athlete recruit. That and the fact that a coach can utilize said player in a multitude of different ways and it doesn’t lock them in to anything. Especially in a recruiting class that’s filling up quickly, athlete tags are important because it allows a coach to justify taking a player even though a specific position may already be “filled up”. Said player has no specific position, at least on paper.
Davis fits that bill exactly for Mizzou, though there is one position where he does stand out more than most . He has played both running back and wide receiver in his high school career and he’s an explosive kick returner. So far in 2016 he’s been mostly a receiver for his school and he does likely project best at wideout at the college level.
He’s a tall, lanky 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, and he uses his height and length to his advantage. He can outrun opponents because of his speed, and his long legs and strides allow him to cover a ton of ground quickly.
Davis is a deep threat because of this, but he also has enough agility and footwork to take shorter routes and make defenders miss. He’s a big receiver to take down and he isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder and run through contact to pick up extra yards — credit his time as a running back for that.
Throw in a pair of really soft hands and the ability to go up and find the football, and Davis projects to be quite the player at Missouri.
He’ll be able to line up out wide and beat defenders, but he could also be a running option on jet sweeps if Mizzou was so inclined. He also projects to make an immediate impact on special teams if the Tigers want to use him as a kick returner.
Frankly, that’s where all his abilities truly come together. Speed, footwork, vision and toughness as a runner make him a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the football.