Missouri football has high hopes for the recruiting class of 2016

Natereace Strong looks to make quick impact in his first year at the Zou.
Barry Odom, Missouri's newly announced Head Football Coach, gives a press conference on Dec. 4 at the Mizzou Arena. Maneater File Photo

To the eyes of the outside world, Missouri’s most recent recruiting class was fairly unappealing.

Despite what many rank as the worst recruiting class in the Southeastern Conference this year, the new Missouri staff is optimistic, describing its recruits as “explosive,” “athletic” and “physical.” Take a look at what the class of 2016 will bring to the table when they set foot on campus,

Quickest Impact: Running back Natereace Strong — Strong was recruited by Missouri as a part of the class of 2015 but was not admitted to Missouri for academic reasons. As a result, Strong spent this past year at Hinds Community College, working to become eligible to play Division I football. He once again committed to Mizzou and will be eligible for the 2016 season as a sophomore.

Strong ran for 1,612 yards during his senior year at East St. Louis High School, where he played alongside freshman defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. and Missouri commit Greg Taylor. The 6-foot, 210-pound back is characterized as a powerful, downhill runner and was also recruited by the likes of Ohio State.

Strong should provide a physical presence in the backfield that Missouri desperately needed in the 2015 season. He should be the Tigers’ every-down back in 2016 and take some of the offensive load off of sophomore quarterback Drew Lock’s shoulders.

Pressure to Perform: Chris Black — Black came out of high school ranked as the No. 2 wide receiver in the class of 2012 and No. 22 on the ESPN 150. He chose to commit to Alabama along with a wide receiver by the name of Amari Cooper.

Black saw his playing time limited throughout his career with the Crimson Tide, only catching 25 passes in three years of playing time. He played in six games during the 2015 season before undergoing season ending ankle surgery.

Black will look to become the face of a Missouri receiving core that struggled throughout the 2015 season. If he can perform well out of his coveted slot position, Black will dramatically elevate an offense that finished last in the SEC.

Most Potential: Brendan Scales — Scales is another Missouri signee who originally saw himself playing for the Crimson Tide. The 6-foot-4-inch tight end switched his commitment from Alabama to Missouri just before National Signing Day.

While Scales may not start as soon as he walks on campus, as both redshirt junior Sean Culkin and sophomore Jason Reese are returning, he has the perfect build to become a dominant receiver.

The Enigma: Tyler Howell — Howell comes to Missouri for his senior season looking to fill in the gaps left in the offensive line by Evan Boehm and Connor McGovern. He also is trying to strengthen an offensive line that struggled mightily to protect Lock and block for Mizzou’s running backs.

Howell is listed as a 6-foot-9-inch, 302-pound offensive tackle from Butler Community College. He garnered offers from the likes of Arkansas, Penn State and Georgia.

While he was very successful during his time at Butler, Howell will be entering a completely different realm when he goes up against SEC defensive lines. Howell’s fellow lineman will not be able to offer him much help as they will have big enough problems with their own assignments.

If Howell can lock down his position, he will be the most important addition to Missouri’s offense in 2016. If he doesn’t, Missouri fans might again become accustomed to seeing Lock on his back.

Edited by Alec Lewis | alewis@themaneater.com

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