KIRKWOOD • For half a heartbeat, Jairus “Jay” Maclin tried to put some suspense in his decision.
A junior receiver and corner back for the Kirkwood football team, Maclin lined up a trio of hats to represent the universities that cracked his final list of potential destinations.
Missouri was on his right, Arizona State in the middle and Indiana on his left. Maclin, 17, reached for Arizona State only to pull back and grab the Mizzou hat and fit it over his head to raucous applause.
Maclin said he had the deke move mapped out ahead of time.
“It was planned,” Maclin said with a laugh. “Just messing around.”
Maclin was playing with the hats but not his decision. He carries the same last name his cousin, Jeremy, made famous as a receiver at Kirkwood and then Mizzou before a fruitful professional career. With so many connections to the Tigers, it would have been hard to turn down. Even in the face of significant NCAA sanctions including a postseason ban for the football program, Maclin knew where he wanted to be.
“I want to be comfortable for the next four or five years,” Maclin said. “It's going to be my life. I felt good at Mizzou.”
A 5-foot-11 and 179-pound receiver, Maclin caught 45 passes for 762 yards and scored 10 touchdowns in the fall. Though not as highly touted as his cousin at this stage, Maclin brings an excellent work ethic and team-first mentality to the locker room. Kirkwood coach Farrell Shelton gushed over Maclin's character.
“You're getting a team guy,” Shelton said. “He's not going to be a guy who's outworked. You're going to get a great student who understands football is going to help him achieve what he wants to do in life.”
Maclin had nine scholarship offers that included Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Kansas, New Mexico and Western Michigan. Maclin was leaning toward Mizzou shortly after he was offered a scholarship. But he didn't want to make a rash decision. He wanted to take a hard look at his options.
“I wanted to take things slowly and then my last junior day visit it felt like home,” he said. “It was time to lock it down.”
Shelton said as he and other Kirkwood administrators chatted with Maclin, they wanted him to consider life without football.
“One thing we really talked about is if you're not playing football at that school can you stay there as a student?” Shelton said. “That was something we wanted him to think about.”
Maclin thought about it and Mizzou was the place for him. He will continue preparing for his senior season now that he's firmly committed to the Tigers. He said the recruiting process was stressful and this was the right time to make this call.
“This takes a lot of pressure off him,” Shelton said.
Maclin is the latest area player in the class of 2020 to verbally commit to Mizzou, joining Chaminade quarterback Brady Cook and Francis Howell offensive lineman Drake Heismeyer. Verbal commitments are nonbinding. The first day seniors can sign their national letters of intent is Dec. 18.
Maclin, the second receiver out of Kirkwood to pledge to the Tigers after Maurice Massey signed in December, is looking forward to bringing his famous last name back to Mizzou but doing it his own way.
“I'm just trying to do me and do what I got to do to help the team,” Maclin said. “As long as I keep working hard to get where I need to be I'm good.”