In 2015, former Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel and his right hand man, assistant coach Cornell Ford, landed the best football recruit from the East side since the late great Damien Nash in Terry Beckner Jr.
Nothing against the great Jimmie Hunt from Cahokia, but Beckner and Nash were both major recruits for the Tigers’ program for more than just game days.
At the time, Nash was one of the most sought after running backs ever from the metro-east. In addition, Missouri had been shut out in the recruiting wars as it pertains to the Flyers’ program.
Prior to Nash’s signing, the last major recruits from East Side who signed with Mizzou were Ronnie Cameron, Homer Bush and Kenneth Dunn, who came in the late 1980’s and early 90’s.
Enter Gary Pinkel and Ford, who established relationships with trust and integrity with the difference makers close to the East St. Louis program, and look what has transpired. Pinkel and his staff reestablished themselves in the Metro East with local coaches and that has propelled the Tigers to respectability once again.
No, they haven’t beaten Oklahoma in Norman. No, they haven’t won a National Championship. But what the Tigers program has done is restore the roar back in Columbia. That has made local players like Sheldon Richardson, Jimmie Hunt, Marcus Golden, Kony Ealy and others want to play football at Mizzou.
During his freshman year at Mizzou, former East St. Louis Flyer Terry Beckner Jr. made believers out of all a long list of locals who decided that staying close to home wasn’t a bad idea.
The 6’4 300-pound defensive tackle, who wavered from the #1 or #2 recruit in 2015, earned Freshman All-American honors for Pinkel despite missing four games due to injury.
Beckner contributed right away for a Missouri team who enters the 2016 season as one of the most feared defensive lines in the country despite the dismissal of two potential starters for disciplinary reasons.
Last year, Beckner made 27 tackles (13 solo) despite missing four games against South Carolina, BYU, Tennessee and Arkansas due to injury. In addition, Beckner had 14 assists for the Tigers, who finished 5-7 in 2015, and 1-3 without the freshman defensive tackle in the lineup. Beckner so far has shown no-signs of the injury that sidelined him the last three games of the SEC season.
Assistant coach Cornell Ford recently said, “Terry Beckner Jr. has been making plays early in camp that sometimes have you shaking your head. I will just say this, if he continues to stay healthy, he has a chance to play on Sundays.”
Not only has Beckner’s presence made a major impact on SEC scouting reports. Currently, the Missouri football program, under first-year Head Coach Barry Odom is ecstatic to have the former Flyer on board because of his relationship with his former teammates at East St. Louis Senior High.
Currently, the Tigers have five players from East St. Louis on its roster in Beckner, free safety Gregory Taylor (Hinds JC), offensive lineman Tre’vour Simms, running back Nate Strong (Hinds JC) and wide receiver Dominic Nelson.
Last week, Mizzou received a verbal commitment from East St. Louis Senior High quarterback Reyoundus Estes who decommitted from Western Michigan. The Tigers are also in the hunt for Flyer All-American wide receiver Jeff Thomas, who has offers from Alabama, Michigan St. and Florida State, among others.
Terry Beckner Jr. is doing his part in the classroom as well. In addition, he has become a favorite in the locker room and on campus.
The future is bright for the soft-spoken yet determined sophomore. If the big fellow from the Mount neighborhood in East St. Louis can somehow talk his former teammate Jeff Thomas into committing to the Tigers, LOOK OUT!