Monday night was one of the most successful nights in Missouri Tigers football’s recent history in terms of recruiting. The Tigers snagged two high profile graduate transfers. The first was Kelly Bryant, the nationally noted former Clemson Tigers quarterback who went 16-2 as a starter at Clemson and led the Tigers to an ACC Championship and appearance in the College Football Playoff just a season ago. This was also Bryant’s first year as Clemson’s starter after the departure of now NFL QB Deshaun Watson. Less than 10 minutes after Bryant announced his decision to transfer to Mizzou via Twitter last night, graduate transfer and former Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Jonathan Nance announced he was transferring to Mizzou as well. Nance led Arkansas in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches during the 2017 season.
December 4, 2018 marked one of the biggest days in Mizzou football’s recruiting history and is easily the best recruiting moment the Tigers have had under Barry Odom. Kelly Bryant announced he would sit out the remainder of the NCAA season after Clemson’s fourth game, which is the new NCAA redshirt rule where athletes can play in the first four games of the season without losing future eligibility, should they decide to sit out after the fourth game to redshirt and be eligible to transfer.
Once Bryant announced he was going to transfer back in September, he easily became the most highly sought-after transfer in college football. Bryant went 16-2 in his time as a starter for Clemson. During the 2017 season, Bryant threw for over 2,800 yards and 13 touchdowns which also included a 65.8 competition percentage. He also added 665 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns en route to leading Clemson to a 12-2 record which included an ACC Championship victory and berth in the CFB Playoff. If you want to see what kind of player Mizzou is getting in Bryant, take a look at this video:
Bryant visited the Mizzou football team and coaching staff during their game against Kentucky back in November. Up until last night, Bryant had reportedly narrowed down his choices to either Missouri or Auburn, with Arkansas as a dark horse candidate. Bryant announced his decision with this video on his Twitter account:
Upon Bryant arriving in Columbia, he will have an elite WR waiting for him, as Jonathan Nance announced his decision to transfer to Mizzou last night as well. Nance played at rival school Arkansas and fared quite well during the 2017 season. Nance played in 11 games for the Razorbacks, racked up 37 catches for 539 yards and five touchdowns, all team highs for Arkansas. Coming out of Mississippi Gulf Coast (JUCO), Nance was labeled as a four-star recruit and top 20 JUCO WR by 247 Sports before enrolling at Arkansas back in January of 2017.
Nance had a stellar first season in 2017 at Arkansas as aforementioned. But 2018 saw some issues for Nance, as Arkansas’ football team started the season 1-3 with their only win coming against FCS Eastern Illinois. Nance started in all of the first four games for Arkansas, but only recorded one catch for -2 yards. Nance, like Bryant then took advantage of the new redshirt rule and sat out the rest of the season after the fourth game in order to be eligible to transfer. Bryant to Nance should be a duo heard often throughout the 2019 season. Bryant has a canon of an arm and Nance can spread the defense out, as four of his five touchdown catches in the 2017 season were from 30 yards or more out. To see what Nance can do, take a look at his highlights from the 2017 season:
Mizzou’s offense should be explosive once again in 2019, as Bryant and Nance are joining an offense that is returning three of their starting five offensive lineman. Additionally, with the three returners, Mizzou has a four-star OL recruit coming in next season in St. Louis area recruit Jack Buford (Lutheran North). Mizzou will also have a plethora of offensive weapons likely returning next season, including RB’s Damarea Crockett and Larry Rountree III and WR’s Johnathon Johnson and Jalen Knox. Mizzou marquee tight end Albert Okwuegbunam does have potentially two more years of eligibility, but the general consensus is that he is going to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft after this season as he is one of the top tight end prospects in the 2019 draft class; therefore, Mizzou cannot bank on his return. “Albert O” as most announcers call him to avoid trying to sound out his last name, has 43 catches for 466 yards and six touchdowns this season. Even if he does not return to Mizzou, the Tigers will still garnish a solid offensive line next season with a large number of weapons for Kelly Bryant to utilize. The offense should be absolutely exceptional once again in 2019 which could propel Mizzou to another successful season.
If Kelly Bryant has himself a good season in 2019, he could join an illustrious history of Mizzou quarterbacks to make it to the NFL. In school history, nine former Tiger QB’s have made it to the NFL, including four since 2006 (this includes Drew Lock, who will be a high selection in the 2019 Draft). At one point, the Tigers had put three straight of their starting quarterbacks into the NFL in Brad Smith, Chase Daniel, and Blaine Gabbert. Bryant has tremendous athletic ability and talent to be the next Mizzou Tiger QB to reach the NFL.
Mizzou has a favorable schedule for the 2019 season as well. Their out of conference opponents include Wyoming, West Virginia, Southeast Missouri, and Troy. They of course play all of the teams in their division, the SEC East. Those opponents include South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee. The Tigers take on two teams from the SEC West in 2019 in Arkansas and Ole Miss, the teams who finished last and next to last in the SEC standings this season. This schedule could potentially help the Tigers win the SEC East Division Title and find their way to Atlanta for their third SEC Championship Game berth in their eight seasons as a member of the Southeastern Conference. The games that hold the most weight toward Mizzou’s success in 2019 will be the games against Georgia, Florida, and Kentucky; teams who are all currently ranked in the Top 25.
Tuesday night was the biggest night for Barry Odom since he has been head coach of Mizzou and is one of the most marquee nights in Mizzou football program history ever in terms of recruiting. Bringing in the likes of Kelly Bryant and Jonathan Nance is going to bolster the Mizzou offense, so they can pick up right where they left off here in 2018. If Mizzou can get things together on the defensive side of the ball, they would have all the likes of competing for an SEC East Division crown and potentially be a dark horse candidate to make the CFB Playoff in 2019. Watch out for these Mizzou Tigers in 2019.