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Missouri Spring Football

Missouri running back Larry Rountree III, right, runs past Missouri linebacker Cameron Wilkins, left, during an NCAA college football intra-squad spring game Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Missouri landed a second verbal commitment from its weekend visitors on Monday when offensive lineman Ray Curry announced his pledge to play football for the Tigers. 

Curry is a three-star offensive tackle from Memphis, Tenn., with an offer list that includes most SEC schools, plus Michigan and Texas, among others. Curry was on MU's campus for an official visit over the weekend. He's rated the nation's No. 65 offensive tackle in the 2020 class by 247Sports.com. He gives MU six commitments for 2020 and three offensive linemen.

When it comes to evaluating running backs, the Missouri coaching staff gets the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise. On Sunday, three-star back Dominique Johnson of Crowley, Texas, announced his verbal commitment to Mizzou on Instagram. For now, his other scholarship offers come from … let’s just say the back pages of Phil Steele’s preseason preview magazine. Abilene Christian. Houston Baptist. Illinois State. Texas Southern.

That won’t scare off Barry Odom’s staff, especially running backs coach Cornell Ford, who has a brief but undeniable history of identifying talent at the position and producing results. Here are the 247Sports.com composite rankings for MU’s last six running back commitments:

Johnson, 2020: No. 90

Anthony Watkins, 2019: No. 87 (as a safety)

Tyler Baide, 2018: No. 28 (as an all-purpose back)

Simi Bakare, 2018: No. 126

Larry Rountree, 2017: No. 56

Damarea Crockett, 2016: No. 31

All six were rated three-star prospects by 247Sports. Rivals.com considered Badie and Bakare both two-star players.

On the field for the Tigers, Crockett and Rountree both developed into 1,000-yard rushers. Badie and Bakare made contributions last year as freshmen and the staff is high on Watkins’ potential this fall and beyond.

As for Johnson, J.J. Resendez is certain the Tigers have found a gem. Crowley High School’s coach is naturally biased, but he also knows what MU’s staff looks for when it comes to running backs. He was previously the head coach at South Hills High in Texas, where he coached Watkins, the running back Mizzou signed back in December.

Johnson, listed at 6-2 and 219 pounds on his Hudl.com account, will be one of the bigger backs Mizzou has landed under Odom. As a junior he rushed for 1,109 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and caught five passes for 81 yards.

“Dominique is just scratching the surface,” Resendez said Monday. “He’s got a little bit of everything. He’s a big kid who can run through tackles but can make you miss too, which is  rare for a guy that big. He’s got incredible hips, so he can change direction pretty quickly. He’s very intelligent, too. He’s got a little bit of everything in his tool belt.”

Crowley runs a spread offense that demands multiple roles for the running back, Resendez said.

“We ask a lot of our running backs,” he said. “We’ll put him out in the route and he catches the ball just like any receiver, probably better than a lot of receivers. Now he gets really dangerous with that big body on a DB. He’s a grown man among boys.”

Baylor and Texas A&M have expressed recent interest in Johnson, Resendez said, but he’s been high on Mizzou since landing his first Power 5 offer earlier this spring.

“Missouri was where he really felt at home,” Resendez said. “It’s SEC football and (being an) SEC running back. When that Missouri offer came, he was like, ‘Dude, I’m done.’”

Johnson was Mizzou's fifth verbal commitments for 2020, and the first from outside the state border. The Tigers have already secured commitments from four St. Louis area players: Chaminade quarterback Brady Cook, Francis Howell offensive lineman Drake Heismeyer, Kirkwood receiver Jay Maclin and Mehlville offensive lineman Mitchell Walters.

Dave Matter is the Mizzou beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.