COLUMBIA- Eliah Drinkwitz is putting together his first full class of recruits on Wednesday as high school football players across the country sign their national letters of intent with college programs.  Rivals.com ranked the class 20th in America.

Among the biggest signings for Mizzou is 4-star quarterback Tyler Macon from East St. Louis, IL.  Macon committed to Drinkwitz early in the recruiting process and maintained his loyalty despite offers from several other Power Five programs in the region, like Michigan State and Illinois. 

"The number one thing for Tyler is he's a winning quarterback," said Drinkwitz.  "He led his team to a state championship last year."

"He just does an absolute tremendous job of being a leader, a gatherer type."

Macon passed for over 5,000 yards in his sophomore and junior seasons and also rushed for over 1,500 yards over the same two year span.  High school football teams in Illinois had their 2020 season moved to the Spring.

Macon's East St. Louis teammate, wide receiver Dominic Lovett, followed Macon in signing his NLI shortly after.  Lovett flipped to Mizzou from Arizona State within the past week.  He had more than 1,500 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior at East St. Louis High.

Mizzou also did well within the state on Wednesday, signing 8 players from the state of Missouri. 

"Hopefully it's just a beginning of taking root where the best players want to stay," said Drinkwitz.  "And there were still some that got away.  But you've got to start small and continue to expand and lay the foundation and lay some roots and I think we were able to create some in-roads."

Within minutes of each other St.Louisans Taj Butts and Mekhi Wingo, who were teammates at DeSmet High School, signed with Missouri.  Butts is a running back who rushed for 419 yards and 5 touchdowns in a senior season shortened by the pandemic that included a 4 TD game against CBC.  Wingo, a defensive lineman, had 5 sacks in just 7 games as a senior, part of his 54 total tackles.

Safety Tyler Hibbler from Trinity Catholic in St. Louis signed not long after the DeSmet duo.  Hibbler had 4 sacks and 68 total tackles during his 2020 season. 

He was joined by Lutheran North star Travion Ford.  Ford is an All-State defensive lineman who won a State Championship at Lutheran North in 2019 after starting his career at Lutheran St. Charles. 

"Obviously he's a guy that can really rush the passer," said Drinkwitz of Ford, who had over 35 sacks in his high school career.

Ford had 6 sacks in a 6 game senior season that was shortened due to the pandemic as he helped lead his team to a District Championship.

Missouri stayed in-state with the signing of offensive lineman Connor Tollison from Jackson, MO and tight end Ryan Hoerstkamp from Washington, MO.

The first player to officially sign on Wednesday was offensive lineman EJ Ndoma-Ogar, a transfer from Oklahoma who made his decision in November.  Ndoma-Ogar was a 4-star player coming out of high school in Allen, TX who played in four games for the Sooners in 2019.

Linebacker Zach Lovett and cornerback Zxaequan Reeves both signed out of the state of Florida.  Junior college transfer Realus George Jr. joins the Tigers as a linebacker.  Tight End Gavin McKay joined Mizzou from Memphis, TN followed by defensive back Davion Sistrunk from Florida.

Mizzou got a bit of a surprise when defensive lineman Arden Walker, one of the top prospects in the state of Colorado, signed on Wednesday morning.

Walker is a 3-star defensive end who also held offers from Colorado, Colorado State, Boise State and Boston College, according to 24/7 Sports.  Walker had 8 sacks during his senior season and 16 for his career at Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, CO.

The Tigers added another defensive end around the same time Walker officially signed.  Jon Jones from McKinney, TX was joined by cornerback DJ Jackson from DeSoto, TX, continuing Mizzou's long-standing tradition of recruiting the Lone Star State.  

Mizzou also added a junior college defensive lineman to help with their depth in the trenches, which has troubled head coach Eliah Drinkwitz during the 2020 season's stretch run.  The Tigers signed Daniel Robledo, a native of Tucson, AZ who joins Missouri from East LA College.

The Tigers went east for linebacker Dameon Wilson, who signed with Mizzou out of Kings Mountain High School in Grover, NC.  Late in the day Mizzou also signed a pair of players from Indianapolis, IN in defensive lineman Kyran Montgomery and defensive back Daylan Carnell.

"I'm excited about this class," said Drinkwitz.  "I feel like we did exactly what we set out to do and can't wait to get these young men on campus... and get started to building the program to where we want it to be."

Information will be added to this article throughout the day.  Check back for updates

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Sports Director

I'm proud to be the Sports Director for KOMU-TV in my hometown of Columbia, MO. You can catch me on KOMU 8 News at 6, 9 and 10 and Sundays on Sports Xtra. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook @BenArnetKOMU

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