First-year head coach Eli Drinkwitz has only been on the job for several months at the University of Missouri, but he has already made a big impact on the recruiting trail for top high school football talent.
Some recruiting outlets have Mizzou’s 2021 recruiting class ranked among the Top 20 in the nation at this stage of the process. More importantly, Drinkwitz has managed to make a big dent in the St. Louis metro area by getting commitments from several area prospects.
Standout quarterback Tyler Macon of East St. Louis committed last spring after a record-breaking season in which he led the Flyers to the Illinois Class 6 state championship. Macon is currently in Nashville, Tennessee to compete in the Elite 11 Finals, which features many of the top high school quarterbacks in the nation.
Defensive lineman Mekhi Wingo and running back Taj Butts from Missouri Class 6 state champion DeSmet have also made verbal pledges to Missouri. The 6’0” 280-pound Wingo was the St. Louis American Large Schools Defensive Player of the Year. The 5’11” 205-pound Butts was a 1,000-yard rusher for the Spartans.
Tight end Ryan Hoerstkamp of Washington High was the fourth area player to commit to the Tigers. He was followed by top defensive end Travion Ford of Lutheran North, who was a mainstay on the Crusaders’ Class 2 state championship team. Last week, Mizzou also got a commitment from defensive back Tyler Hibbler from Trinity Catholic.
RIP Justin Love
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of former Saint Louis Billiken basketball standout Justin Love, who passed away suddenly last week at the young age of 41. Love was entering his fourth season as the head coach at Mascoutah High, where he was establishing himself as a well-respected young coach.
In 2000, it was Love who orchestrated one of the most memorable moments in SLU basketball history when he led the Billikens on a miracle four-day run to the Conference-USA Tournament championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in Memphis. Dubbed the “Miracle in Memphis,” the Billikens entered the weekend as the No. 9 seed, but won four games in four days to win the championship. Love was the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament after a tremendous four-day run. That championship weekend was the highlight of my 29-year career as the radio color analyst for the Billikens.
After a 12-year professional career overseas, Love returned to the metro east area, where he began his coaching career. He was an assistant coach at Belleville West High before taking over the head coaching reins at Mascoutah in 2017. He led the Indians to a Class 3A regional championship in 2018. He was a wonderful young man and a well-loved member of the Mascoutah and Saint Louis U. community.
East St. Louis Senior High track star Willie Johnson has given a commitment to Southern Illinois University. As a junior, Johnson led the Flyers to the Illinois Class AA state championship in 2019. He was the state champion in the 400-meter dash and the anchor leg on the Flyers’ state-champion 4x400-meter relay team.
A pair of Class of 2021 football standouts also gave verbal commitments in the past week. Defensive back Demetrius Cannon of Trinity committed to the University of Louisville, while defensive back Denver Parker of Class 6 state champion DeSmet gave a commitment to Austin Peay State University.
Brandon Miller, Courtney Williams earn Gatorade Award
Congratulations to Brandon Miller of John Burroughs and Courtney Williams of Nerinx Hall of being selected as the 2020 Gatorade Missouri Athletes of the Year in boys and girls track and field. Miller is the state record holder in the 800-meter run, while Williams was a state champion in the 400-meter dash. Miller is headed to Texas A&M and Williams has signed with Clemson on track scholarships.