Natereace Strong will get a second chance to play SEC football with the Missouri Tigers.
Strong sent his signed letter of intent to Missouri, the school announced Wednesday. A talented running back from Hinds Community College, Strong originally committed to Missouri while at East Saint Louis (Ill.) High School, but spent a year at junior college because of academics.
— #MIZNSD16 (@MizzouFootball) February 3, 2016
A four-star recruit in 2015 out of high school and again in 2016 after a year of junior college, Strong was the highest-rated recruit among Missouri’s 16 commitments before Wednesday, according to the 247sports composite rankings.
Here are a few things to know about Strong:
- There will be no shortage of familiar faces in Columbia, Mo., for Strong. Defensive back commit Greg Taylor played with Strong at East Saint Louis High School and also at Hinds C.C. They will join rising sophomore defensive lineman Terry Beckner, Jr., who also went to high school at East St. Louis. A fourth East Saint Louis player will also join them. Offensive lineman Tre’Vour Simms flipped his verbal commitment from Illinois to Missouri and then back to the Illini a few days later in December. Shortly thereafter, he changed his Twitter profile to say he’s committed to Mizzou, and he signed Wednesday with the Tigers.
- Strong is the No. 2 junior college running back in the country. He was rated as the No. 24 running back coming out of high school in 2015, ahead of players who made an instant impact like Josh Adams at Notre Dame and Myles Gaskin at Washington.
- Strong ran for more than 1,600 yards as a senior in high school, but he has not had a lot of work since. He appeared in only two games for Hinds C.C., and had 15 carries for 102 yards, and his season was cut short in September.
- Strong has a connection to one of the top running backs in the country. He was once in a summer track program with fellow St. Louis-area native Ezekiel Elliott. At one point in Strong’s recruiting process, Elliott’s former team, the Ohio State Buckeyes were heavily involved.
- There could be an opportunity for early playing time. Russell Hansbrough has exhausted his eligibility, and he split time with rising junior Ish Witter last season. Witter finished with a team-high 518 yards on 126 carries, or an average of 4.1 yards per attempt. No other returning player had more than 39 rushing yards, and there is a new offensive coordinator in place next season. The offense was dismal in 2015, so expect new coach Barry Odom to be eager to find playmakers, regardless of experience.