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Missouri recruiting reaches Deep South

| Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 10:24 p.m.

Missouri's bye week arrives at a perfect time. Senior quarterback James Franklin gets another week to rest his injured shoulder as the No. 9 Tigers prepare for their stretch run in the SEC with critical matchups against Mississippi and No. 10 Texas A&M.

Franklin was injured during Missouri's 36-17 win against Florida last month. Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk replaced Franklin and guided the Tigers (9-1, 5-1) to wins over Tennessee and Kentucky. Franklin is expected to resume as a starter against Mississippi on Nov. 23.

“We played six straight SEC games,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “It's a rest from the grind of the mental preparation that goes along with playing in this league. We backed off physically. The timing is great.”

Franklin is one of Pinkel's success stories. He's among 36 Texans on the roster; only home state Missouri has more representation (59 players).

It took Missouri's recruiters years to gain a foothold in Big 12 stomping grounds Texas and Oklahoma. With the Tigers' move to the SEC last year, Pinkel's staff is competing against new conference rivals for players in Southern states such as Florida and Georgia.

Early returns are encouraging. Missouri has received commitments from nine prospects from Florida and Georgia, after signing a total of six from those states in five previous recruiting classes.

“We made significant changes,” Pinkel said. “We adjusted recruiters in the Atlanta area, south Georgia. We're recruiting in Florida. It's great high school football. Obviously, you want to have a place in the geographical areas where you play your games. That transition we saw take place in Texas over a period of years. We'll continue to recruit Texas, but certainly we've had to expand and adjust.”

College recruiters covet offensive skill players from Florida and Georgia. Missouri's recent recruiting stash includes receiver Nate Brown from Suwannee, Ga., and running back Trevon Walters from Bradenton, Fla.

“It's about going in and gaining trust from coaches and treating people right,” Pinkel said. “The greatest sales people you have are the people that eventually come here and go back to their high schools in Atlanta, Florida, and they talk about what a great place Mizzou is.”

The Tigers are 99-62 under Pinkel, whose teams posted records of 12-2, 10-4, 8-5, 10-3, 8-5 and 5-7 since 2007.

“It's about consistent success,” Pinkel said. “BCS percentage wise, we've won pretty good the last nine years, compared to all BCS teams. This year is good, but it's still about consistency of winning and earning respect.

“It's ongoing.”

John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jharris@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JHarris_Trib

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