Barry Odom welcomed 17 freshmen to the Missouri football program with his inaugural 19-member recruiting class in 2016.
And while the Tigers foundered in the 2016 season en route to missing out on a bowl game for the second consecutive year, there’s hope for the future. That starts with the 2016 haul of talent which left an indelible mark on the program, particularly on offense — an area in which Mizzou struggled.
We examine Odom’s 2016 recruiting class and the impact of last season’s true freshman.
Standout true freshmen
|Darvis Holmes||OT||DNP||Shoulder injury|
Missouri was a young team in 2016. That allowed several recruits from Odom’s first class to play meaningful minutes.
All told, 10 players from the freshman class of 17 players appeared in at least three games. That includes wid receiver Dimetrios Mason, inside linebacker Cale Garrett and kicker Tucker McCann, who started all 12 games for the 4-8 Tigers. Six true freshmen played in at least 10 games.
The group combined to start 13 games, led by Mason (8).
Only Jeremy Maclin had more receiving yards as a Mizzou freshman than Mason. But Maclin’s 1,055 yards in 2007 came after a redshirt season, making Mason’s 587 yards the most by a true freshman in Tigers history. Mason also had three touchdown receptions.
Mason might have been the steal of the recruiting class, ranking No. 133 in of the state of Georgia, per 247Sports composite ranking, and No. 210 among the nation’s wide receivers exiting high school.
Natereace Strong, a 4-star recruit and No. 2 overall community college running back in the nation, was the top tailback in the Tigers’ recruiting class. He played as a sophomore.
It was Damarea Crockett, however, who wrested control of the backfield. A 3-star recruit from Little Rock, Ark., Crockett set Tigers freshman records for rushing yards (1,062) and touchdowns (10) in a season, as well as single-game records for yards (225) and touchdowns (4).
In contrast, Strong played in six games, garnering 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 32 attempts.
Missouri is known for its staunch defense lines. The Tigers’ newest members of the defense got their share of real game experience as true freshman.
Inside linebacker Cale Garrett made his presence felt in his first season by playing in all 12 games and starting 2 of them. Garrett finished with 47 tackles, 27 of them solo. He tied Eric Beisel for third on the team with 6 tackles-for-loss and had an interception.
Odom’s secondary saw three players — safeties Greg Taylor, DeMarkus Acy and cornerback Christian Holmes — combine to play in 23 games. Taylor indicated that he’ll transfer, while Acy should compete for a starting role in 2017 as a sophomore.
|Micah Wilson||Dual-threat QB|
Missouri redshirted six freshmen from its 2016 recruiting class. That group includes two tight ends, a dual-threat quarterback and athlete Jerod Alton, who will likely make the switch to cornerback.
Tre Williams has the talent to continue the Tigers’ lineage of edge rushers. At 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, Williams has the speed and strength to be a force in the pass rush.
Tucker McCann finished No. 5 in the SEC in kick average, where his 63.38 yards-per-boot trailed Florida’s Eddy Pineiro by 1.41 yards for tops in the conference. McCann’s 4 missed PATs and 6-for-12 on field-goal tries, however, landed him in the conference basement in both categories. He’ll be pushed in camp by walk-ons Nick Bartolotta, a reshirt senior, and Andrew Carr, a junior.