Missouri football strengthens incoming recruiting class with five signees on National Signing Day

The Tigers landed cornerback Ennis Rakestraw over Alabama and Abrams-Draine over LSU in a successful National Signing Day.

New football coach Eliah Drinkwitz signed five recruits to Missouri on National Signing Day on Feb. 5, raising the Tigers’ national ranking to 50 on 247 Sports and 56 on Rivals.

Among those five was Duncanville, Texas native Ennis Rakestraw, a cornerback who chose Missouri over Texas and Alabama on the morning of Feb. 6. In a viral video, Drinkwitz reacted with shock and ecstasy when he found out that he had landed his top target at the position.

“I was that excited for everybody; they just happened to film that one,” Drinkwitz said with a chuckle at a press conference the afternoon of National Signing Day.

Rakestraw has impressed Missouri’s new coaching staff and scouts around the country with his length, speed and ball skills. He was named the Dallas Morning News Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, which helped attract an offer from the Crimson Tide, arguably the most prominent and annually dominant football program in the country.

“He’s a willing tackler, so he can set the edge if we want him to,” Drinkwitz said. “He provides a lot of positional versatility, and with his length provides us with the ability to play man to man and match up with the receivers in this conference.”

Also joining the Tigers in 2020 is Kris Abrams-Draine, a receiver out of Alabama who 247 Sports rates as Missouri’s second-best signee. Abrams-Draine was a quarterback during his senior year of high school, which he spent running circles around opposing defenses.

The Tigers emphasized acquiring “touchdown-makers” like Abrams-Draine, who projects as a slot receiver in college. Missouri has lost three of its best in receiver Jonathan Johnson, receiver Jonathan Nance and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam.

“He’s a guy that’s got all kinds of athleticism,” Drinkwitz said regarding Abrams-Draine. “When the ball is in his hands, the moment is never too big for him. He’s a guy who can create on his own, and when he gets the ball in space, he’s able to do something with it.”

The Tigers stockpiled receivers in the Class of 2020 in Abrams-Draine, Javian “JJ” Hester, Jay Maclin and Damon Hazelton, who transferred from Virginia Tech last week. Hazelton will start right away assuming he’s eligible, and the three incoming freshmen add a much-needed infusion of young and athletic talent to the receiver room.

Joining Rakestraw and Abrams-Draine in signing on Wednesday were defensive tackle Montra Edwards and offensive tackle Dylan Spencer, both out of Mississippi, and defensive end Johnny Walker Jr. out of Florida. They join the 10 who signed in December, Hazelton, and Junior College defensive line transfer Benjamin Key.

Edwards, a space-eating three-technique who can threaten in pass rush, was briefly committed to Missouri in August, but he came back in January and immediately bought into Drinkwitz’s message. He was so sold on it that he tried — successfully — to bring others to Columbia.

“Montra is a tremendous young man,” Drinkwitz said. “When he committed to us, he tried to get other people on board, which led us to the Dylan Spencer connection.”

Walker was brought in to jump-start Missouri’s pass rush, but he won’t be able to do so for at least one or two more years. The edge rusher boasts an incredibly lean frame at 6’3”, 204 pounds, and will need to spend boatloads of time with dumbbells and forks in his hands before he can see the field.

If he does, however, his eye-popping speed and motor on tape could shine at Faurot Field. Walker jumped off the screen with his burst off the line of scrimmage and ability to bend around offensive tackles. It will take a while, but Drinkwitz could have a steal in the Florida native, which is what rebuilding programs like Missouri need.

Drinkwitz’s second signing day since becoming Missouri’s head coach included zero in-state signees. While the new coach remains committed to stockpiling the best possible talent, improving in the state of Missouri is one of his goals for the class of 2021.

“We’re gonna take the people that we believe can help us win the SEC East,” Drinkwitz said. “We do know that there are great players in this state, and we’re coming to get them.”

Edited by Wilson Moore | wmoore@themaneater.com

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