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The 5 most important recruits of the Gary Pinkel era at MU

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(KTVI)- Gary Pinkel will coach his final game at Memorial Stadium in Columbia next Saturday, after Friday’s stunning announcement that he’d be stepping down for health reasons at the conclusion of the season after 15 years in charge of the Tiger Football program. It seems like an appropriate time to take stock of the five most important recruits Pinkel imported to play on Faurot Field. They were all good players, but this isn’t a ranking of the best recruits. Rather, we’re looking at five players who helped Pinkel build a program in Boone County.

  • Brad Smith: He was going to be Pinkel’s quarterback at Toledo but instead joined him at Mizzou. All he did was re-write NCAA quarterback recordbooks.
  • Damien Nash: The running back from Riverview Gardens and East St. Louis would have been in that same recruiting class with Smith but needed to go through the junior college ranks because of academic qualifications. He would leave early for the NFL, but getting him on campus was a coup for a Missouri program that had seen plenty of in-state talent flee.
  • Chase Daniel: Let’s not forget that despite Smith’s brilliance, the early Pinkel years were a roller coaster. A 5-6 record in 2004 after finally breaking a bowl drought in 2003 did not go over well. In comes Daniel in 2005 as Smith’s backup in an offense that Daniel knew well from his high school days. All he did was re-write some of those same records Smith set, become a Heisman finalist and propel Mizzou football to a #1 national ranking during his tenure.
  • Jeremy Maclin: The kid from Kirkwood gets included here because he flipped from a verbal pledge to Oklahoma to stay home, also spurring other national powers like Ohio State, Nebraska and Notre Dame. This showed others to come, like QB Blaine Gabbert, that you could still stay home, even if you’d said yes to another ‘big-time’ program first.
  • Dorial Green-Beckham/Terry Beckner: Green-Beckham’s trials and tribulations brought an early end to his Tiger tenure, but you can’t deny the importance of being able to land elite level recruits who aren’t just among the top-ranked players in the state, but in the entire country. These are guys who had offers as high school freshman and could literally go to whichever college they wanted because they had so many offers. But they all came to play for Pinkel in Columbia and made their announcements to sign with MU on national television.