Drinkwitz’ offensive mind, energy lauded by Odom commits

Maclin, Cook and Jones spoke about why they chose to stay with Missouri.

Despite initially committing to a Missouri football program led by now-fired coach Barry Odom, many of the Tigers’ commits in the recruiting class of 2020 have given rave reviews to Odom’s replacement, Eliah Drinkwitz.

The former Appalachian State coach was able to sign each of the Odom’s top three commits: wide receiver Javian “JJ” Hester from Oklahoma, running back Elijah Young from Tennessee and wide receiver Jay Maclin from St. Louis. Hester had reopened his recruitment and Maclin tweeted his displeasure after former coach Barry Odom was fired, but Drinkwitz convinced both to stay on board.

“Coach Drink[witz] is an amazing man,” Maclin said in December. “He’s very chill and as a player and human, I can trust him. I believe that he will help Mizzou win football games and help me become a better player.”

Players were impressed when Drinkwitz met face to face with each in-state commit in the days immediately following his hiring, and with his knowledge of offensive football. The latter reason may explain why eight of Drinkwitz’s first 10 signees — all of whom put pen to paper on the Dec. 18 signing day — were offensive players, including the top quarterback prospect in Missouri, St. Louis’s Brady Cook.

“Coach Drinkitz is an offensive minded coach, and it seemed like the right fit for me to play for his team,” Cook said in December. “I loved coach Odom, but playing for Mizzou was always my dream.”

The top of Missouri’s recruiting class is dominated by skill positions. It’s led by Young, a running back, and receivers Hester, Maclin, Feb. 5 signee and receiver Kris Abrams-Draine and Virginia Tech graduate transfer Damon Hazelton.

Cook was enthused about entering Columbia with a strong class of offensive weapons alongside him and an offensive mind at the helm.

“JJ and Jay bring a lot of talent to the table, and our bond will only get stronger on and off the field over the next year,” Cook said. “I can’t wait to keep working with them and eventually make plays with them on Saturdays.

Regarding Odom’s defensive guys, Drinkwitz couldn’t retain Rock Bridge defensive end Jalen Logan-Redding, who decommitted from the Tigers and chose Minnesota instead. He did not express any ill will toward Drinkwitz, stressing that the new coach is a “great guy with a vision.”

“I have nothing bad to say about Mizzou, I just feel like the University of Minnesota, the city of Minneapolis has better opportunities for me along with culture and diversity,” Logan-Redding said. “Drinkwitz is determined to be a great impact on young adults’ lives, and I feel he will impact Mizzou in great ways.”

The Gophers’ philosophy on life after football and the opportunities in the Twin Cities are what sealed the deal for Logan-Redding.

“I love the coaching staff and of course PJ Fleck,” he said in December. “Their focus is being a ‘Gopher for life,’ which means making sure we are successful after football because football is only for a short time in our lives.”

Despite his background being on the other side of the ball, Drinkwitz was able to convince Will Norris, a linebacker and Logan-Redding’s teammate at Rock Bridge and Tyler Jones, a safety from Florida, to stay committed. Jones opened up his recruitment when Odom was fired, but he ultimately decided to stay with the Tigers.

“When I went back up, it was great,” Jones said. “What appeals to me is how young he is and how I feel like he was very relatable with me and the players. He is very energetic, so that’s great.”

Young, Maclin and Cook have already begun working directly with Drinkwitz, as all three have enrolled early at Missouri.

“I also believe that he will help me get to accomplish my goal, which is the NFL,” Maclin said in December. “All of the commits love him and we’re ready to roll.”

Edited by Wilson Moore | wmoore@themaneater.com

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