A look ahead: Missouri football’s best recruiting class since 2015 contains plenty of potential stars

Transfers and highly-touted freshmen make up a group of fresh faces.

Eli Drinkwitz and the Missouri football program landed the 28th best recruiting class in the country in 2021, which included many high-profile transfers. With multiple key losses from the 2020 roster, some of those newcomers will be able to make an immediate impact this coming fall.

Five of these fresh faces will be counted upon to fill holes left by departed stars.

Blaze Alldredge | Senior | Transfer from Rice | Linebacker (LB)

College Stats (3 seasons): 214 total tackles, 29 tackles for loss (TFL), 2 interceptions

A largely unheralded recruit out of high school, Blaze Alldredge made a major impact during his time at Rice. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker specializes in wreaking havoc in the backfield and was second in the nation in tackles for loss in 2019. That season also included Alldredge eclipsing the 100 total tackle mark, proving that he is a productive performer.

To cap off his career at Rice, peers voted Alldredge as the Most Valuable Player on the team in 2020. With star linebacker Nick Bolton off to the NFL, there is a void left at the LB spot. Enter Alldredge, an experienced senior capable of coming in and taking over a leadership role within the defense. The learning curve coming from the C-USA to the SEC will be steep, but Alldredge’s physicality and football IQ should help make it a smooth transition.

Travion Ford | Freshman | 4-star recruit | Defensive End (DE)

2018 High School Stats (Last full season): 82 total tackles, 17 sacks, 4 forced fumbles

Drinkwitz has made it a priority to keep homegrown talent in-state, and in his first full recruiting cycle, he did just that as the gem of the Tigers’ 2021 recruiting class hails from Missouri. Travion Ford, a highly-touted prospect out of St. Louis, held offers from Alabama, Louisville, Arizona State and Illinois.

At 6 foot-4 inches, Ford is a lean defensive end with great length, which allows him to potentially play in a hybrid DE/LB role. The Tigers lacked a dominant pass rusher last season, but Ford could change that in year one. He has a great skill set and athletic ability, but the biggest factor in his development will be how he improves his body. A 6-foot-4, 232-pound frame can get beat up in the trenches, especially in the SEC, so Ford will need to work in the weight room to build his frame.

Missouri has a legacy of producing elite pass rushers; names such as Michael Sam, Shane Ray, Markus Golden and Aldon Smith come to mind. Travion Ford could be next in line.

Mookie Cooper | Freshman | Transfer from Ohio State | Wide Receiver (WR)

2019 High School Stats: 29 catches, 869 yards, 9 touchdowns, 224 rushing yards

Continuing the same theme of keeping talent at home, Drinkwitz managed to land Mookie Cooper after he entered the transfer portal in December. The St. Louis product was highly sought after coming out of high school, as he held offers from Alabama, Ohio State, USC and Texas among many other programs. Cooper committed to Ohio State but received little playing time in 2020 due to a star-studded cast of wideouts ahead of him.

The four-star receiver opted to come back to his home state to play, and the Tigers could not be happier. Connor Bazelak needs more weapons to work with on the outside, and Cooper is as explosive as they come. What pops out in his high school tape is how much of a vertical threat he is. Cooper boasts elite speed and a great build, which allows him to run past defenders and easily evade tacklers in the open field. With great hands and route-running ability, Cooper has almost no weaknesses in his game.

The only concern: his height. Standing at 5-foot-9, he is a smaller receiver. This means he will have to make up for the height disparity with speed and the ability to make magic happen with the ball in his hands. Cooper has “playmaker” written all over him, and it is safe to assume that Drinkwitz and Bazelak will be getting him the ball in space as much as possible.

Dominic Lovett | Freshman | 4-star recruit | Wide Receiver (WR)

2019 High School Stats: 74 catches, 1,549 yards, 17 TDs

In addition to Cooper, Missouri added another receiver to help out its quarterback in Dominic Lovett. The four-star prospect originally committed to Arizona State before flipping to Missouri. Lovett, a graduate of East St. Louis High School, is another undersized wide-out (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) that will need to work on adding weight to consistently hang with SEC defensive backs.

Still, Lovett’s upside is immense. He makes a living off beating defensive backs off the line of scrimmage, which is a great skill that many high school products struggle with. He has big-play ability every time he is on the field, as his acceleration and speed coming out of cuts is elite. On top of that, he capped off his high school career with a 14-0 season and an Illinois State Championship.

Lovett is a winner. The frame is a concern, but with time in the weight room and conditioning program, Lovett should fill out to become a solid SEC wide receiver. He will get his chances in his freshman campaign to show what he is capable of.

Jadarrius Perkins | Freshman | 3-star JUCO recruit | Cornerback (CB)

Junior College Stats: 32 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 7 pass breakups, 1 interception

Defensive back was a major point of emphasis in the 2021 class after the departure of so many seniors, and Drinkwitz signed five players to bolster the secondary. Headlining that group is junior college transfer Jaddarrius Perkins.

Perkins attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in 2019 and 2020 and originally committed to Oregon before he flipped to Missouri. His 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame is ideal for a college corner. Perkins’ coverage skills are above average and he has a high ceiling to live up to as he works at the D-I level.

The junior will likely be thrown into the fire this season with so many holes to fill in the secondary, so he may suffer through some rough patches in his first year. Still, If he takes strides in his development each year, expect there to be many flashes of Perkins showing he can be an NFL prospect.

Edited by Kyle Pinnell | kpinnell@themaneater.com

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