Missouri’s Barry Odom collected another piece for his 2020 recruiting class, and once again, the Tigers’ latest verbal commitment comes from a local prospect. Mitchell Walters, one of the area’s biggest offensive linemen, tweeted his pledge to Mizzou on Wednesday.
“I’m staying home,” the three-star target from Mehlville High School posted on Twitter to announce his commitment.
Walters, an offensive tackle listed at 6-foot-8, 275 pounds, has been making a strong impression on the camp circuit lately and piling up offers from Power 5 schools. He also holds offers from Arizona, Baylor, Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, Minnesota, Purdue and TCU. He’s rated the nation’s No. 87 offensive tackle for 2020 and the state’s No. 20 player overall by 247Sports.com.
All four of Mizzou’s 2020 committed recruits are players from the St. Louis area as Walters joins Chaminade quarterback Brady Cook, Francis Howell offensive lineman Drake Heismeyer and Kirkwood receiver Jay Maclin.
Just two years ago Odom failed to snag a single high school player from within the state border much less the St. Louis area. Now he’s got four area players lined up for next year’s class on the heels of a 2019 class that included five St. Louis recruits.
Walters is the area’s third offensive linemen to commit to Mizzou in the last two recruiting cycles, a development that Lutheran North coach Carl Reed all but predicted last year when Mizzou O-line coach Brad Davis landed his four-star lineman Jack Buford, who picked the Tigers over several high-profile Power 5 programs.
“Brad Davis is a future star the coaching profession,” Reed said last summer. “He’s going to be a guy you look up after a while and he’ll be a head coach somewhere. He’s an elite coach. He’s been trained by the best. He’s played for some of the best. And I think he’s as good as a recruiter as I’ve seen since I’ve been coaching high school. Also, he can teach the Xs and Os and coach with anybody in that position. He’s the total package.”
Marc Lillibridge, a former NFL player, scout and agent, has known Walters for several years through his connection with the Elite Performance Academy. On Thursday, Lillibridge provided a scouting report on Mizzou’s latest commitment.
“Any time you see a guy 6-5 or 6-6 as a freshman in high school it’s like, OK, there’s at least something to work with,” he said. “You either got it or you don’t. He was just raw and almost like a doe, a baby deer just learning how to walk. He could barely get into a stance. I saw him at Elite Football Academy and the offensive line coach there is Jamie Pond, who’s as good as there is in the state. When he got him, he was like, ‘Man, this guy is raw as you can get.' But there are attributes. One of them was he didn’t know he was raw. He was like, I’ll outwork everyone else until I get it. Once his body and ability caught up to his growth then it all switched.”
On his highlight reel at Hudl.com, Lillibridge added, “I’m watching that and saying, ‘Holy cow, that’s an unbelievable play for a guy that big.’ His knee bend and his demeanor downfield to finish guys, the way he handles his pass pro, he’s got the attributes you want and see projecting to be high-level player.
“Two years ago at a Lindenwood camp after his sophomore season I said, ‘That kid will play in the NFL if he continues on the same trajectory he’s at right now.’ There are just certain things you can tell. I can’t predict injuries or getting into a bad offense, but he has things you want and can work with to be an NFL player. He has to get to college first and he’s got a long way to go but he’s got the attributes you look for.”
What’s the best position for Walters at the next level? He’s been a left tackle at Mehlville.
“Right tackle and left tackle are two different positions,” Lillibridge said. “People say if you can play left tackle you can play right tackle. That’s not the case. Coach (Brad) Davis is phenomenal and it’s not for me to decide but I think he could play either. He can play left or right. But that’s his position in college. He’s a tackle.”
Sometimes high school measurements can be embellished, but Lillibridge insisted Walters is every bit of 6-8 — and might not be done growing.
“I don’t know Mehlville’s strength program, but I know his parents and know what they feed him, but this is a kid who’s got a frame to add another 25-30 pounds of muscle,” Lillibridge said. “Just a meal plan alone will make a huge difference. He just turned 17. This is a puppy. He’s still got another high school year left. You get him up there (to Mizzou) and redshirt him, which I think you should every offensive lineman, he’ll come into his redshirt freshman year being 19 or 20 and now he’s 6-foot-8 and 320, probably all ripped up, cut up and you’re like, that’s what a tackle looks like in the SEC.”
Mizzou’s done well hauling in local pledges, but among all 14 SEC teams only Vanderbilt has fewer than MU’s four commitments with three. Alabama leads the conference with 17, followed by LSU (14) and Florida (12).