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June 18, 2007
There's just not another high profile national player like him in this year's class.
But if you do dig deeper into the Missouri rankings you'll see that there are plenty of really good players also littered through the list. Take guys like Smithville, Mo., tight end Andrew Jones, Bonne Terre (Mo.) North County linebacker Will Compton and Kansas City (Mo.) Pembroke Hill tight end Spencer Ladner for example.
All three haven't grabbed as many national headlines as Gabbert has, but all are very solid players and very deserving of their four-star rankings.
Smith has the ability to stretch the field at his tight end position, and he will be very effective in Missouri's passing attack. Compton has risen like no other player in the Heartland. He was a virtually unknown player before his name got out there more and more and he impressed at spring camps and combines. After further analysis on Compton, it's easy to see why he's received around 20 scholarship offers.
When you watch Ladner on tape, it's exciting to think about his future as a Cal Bear in the way that the Pac 10 power utilizes its tight ends. He makes some of the most impressive acrobatic catches around with his 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame.
Then when you see other amazing prospects like St. Louis DeSmet Jesuit receiver Wes Kemp, Raytown defensive end Aldon Smith, DeSmet cornerback Robert Steeples and Jefferson City offensive lineman Travis Ruth, you could argue that Missouri's as loaded at the top as it's been in recent years.
But where it doesn't stack up to past years is in the depth. All of the players in the top 20 list do have solid scholarship offers, but once you get outside the ranking the Show Me State doesn't have the talent top to bottom as it did even in last year's group.
Another annual debate that rages each year is the question of which city has the top talent ? St. Louis or Kansas City. But this year there isn't much debate, because the East side has all the bragging rights with Gabbert, Compton, Kemp, Steeples and St. Louis Hazelwood East athlete DeMarco Paine all in the top 10.
Each year there's also a scramble to seal the state border by the Missouri Tigers and those results have been met with good success in recent years by coach Gary Pinkel. There does seem to be a trend where a few high profile kids, especially in the St. Louis area, decide to leave the state like Gabbert and Kemp did, but all in all the Tigers have done a good job in their own backyard.
Four of the top 10 players have already pledged to the Tigers and Mizzou does stand a great chance at landing Compton, Smith and Paine. If things go the Tigers' way, they could end up with seven of the top 10 players.