Missouri has not traditionally been loaded with top-to-bottom talent over the years. Instead, it's been rather top-heavy, with 3-5 upper-echelon BCS-caliber players, another 7-10 prospects with midlevel BCS talent, and the rest of the state likely producing non-BCS prospects as well as FCS level players and below.
Dating back to the 2007 class, the Missouri Tigers have signed at least one of the top two highest-rated prospects in the state, and in 2008 they signed both, one being current starting QB Blaine Gabbert, who is quietly becoming one of the nation's best college quarterbacks. However, at times it has been difficult to keep some of the state's best prospects at home. In 2006, QB Josh Freeman chose K-State and DE Adrian Clayborn chose Iowa. From the 2009 class, RB Ronnie Wingo now anchors the backfield at Arkansas. In 2010, DT Chase Rome chose Nebraska. As a result, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has made strides in Texas, Louisiana and Illinois to help supplement his roster.
RB Darrian Miller (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs)
Miller may be undersized, but he is a lightning bolt of quickness and lateral agility. He squirts through tiny inline creases and can be very difficult to handle in space. Miller, who is uncommitted, would be best-suited in a spread offense zone-blocking scheme so he would not have to carry the ball consistently downhill between the tackles. He does have a low base and shows a squatty frame, which can limit his flexibility through the hips.
Remember this name
RB Malcolm Agnew (Saint Louis, Mo./De Smet Jesuit)
Oregon State has a history of having success with undersized running backs and that's why Agnew, a Beavers commit, is the name to watch. At 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Agnew is a quick-footed, shifty runner with explosiveness, and we also feel he could make the transition to cornerback if need be. We felt the same about Jacquizz Rodgers, who possesses the same skill set, back when he was heading to Oregon State, and he's done pretty well at running back for the Beavers.
Taking up residence
Here are the colleges that are doing the best with prospects from Missouri.
Just nine of the state's top 20 prospects are committed right now, but Missouri has two of them: QB Corbin Berkstresser (Lees Summit, Mo./Lees Summit), the state's No. 2 QB and fourth-best prospect, and WR Wesley Leftwich (Columbia, Mo./Hickman), the state's top wideout.
The Sooners, who have had success recruiting Missouri in the past, have our second-rated prospect in Missouri on board this year, TE Dan Tapko (Kansas City, Mo./Rockhurst). Tapko (6-4, 225 pounds) has the size and tools to be a pretty tough and productive college tight end.
For the second time in two years, the Hogs have garnered a verbal commitment from a Missouri RB. This year it's Kody Walker (Jefferson City, Mo./Jefferson City), a three-star back who's the No. 4 RB in the state.
Surprisingly, neither Kansas nor Kansas State has a verbal commitment from any prospect in the state of Missouri for the 2011 class.
Tom Luginbill is ESPN's national director of football recruiting.