COLUMBIA — Montra Edwards Jr. became the 14th commitment to Missouri's 2020 football class Tuesday morning, and the second defensive lineman in the month of August following Robert Wooten's pledge Aug. 4.
A three-star defensive tackle from Holmes County Central (Lexington, Miss.) High School, Edwards is rated by Rivals.com as the eighth-best player in Mississippi and holds 29 total offers, including LSU, Michigan, Florida, Auburn, Tennessee, Oregon, Florida State, Mississippi State and Mississippi, among others.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds, he attracted the attention of Tigers' defensive line coach Brick Haley with a junior season that included 107 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and 16 quarterback hurries, according to the Jaguars' MaxPreps page.
The Tigers currently have six defensive players committed for the 2020 class: ends Wooten and Cooper Davis, tackles Edwards Jr. and Kevon Billingsley, and linebackers Antonio Doyle and Will Norris.
Early signing, where most Power 5 programs fill out the majority of their signing classes, runs Dec. 18-20 for this year's group of high school seniors, while the regular period runs Feb. 5-April 1, 2020.
Barry Odom is continuing his pursuit of a more mentally tough team as he enters his fourth season leading the football program. Missouri is 4-5 in the last three seasons in one-score (eight points or fewer) games after going 8-4 in Gary Pinkel's final three seasons.
Circumstances and roster talent can take some of the blame. The Tigers were 1-2 in close games in 2016, beating Arkansas but losing to Georgia and Middle Tennessee State; 1-1 in 2017, losing to Kentucky and beating Arkansas; and 2-3 last season, holding off late comebacks from Purdue and Vanderbilt but unable to find a way against South Carolina, Kentucky and Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl.
That Georgia loss in 2016 certainly hurts: Missouri led for nearly the entire fourth quarter and, per ESPN's metric, had an 81.9 percent win probability with 1:36 left in the game. But the losses to Kentucky and South Carolina showed the offense (plus a questionable penalty call) in the former and the defense in the latter showed how inconsistency and a lack of composure cost the Tigers a great shot at a New Years Six bowl, and the Liberty Bowl loss to Oklahoma State helped reinforce the issue.
But with a roster almost entirely of he and his staff's own recruiting, Odom wants to turn the page. The team went through a bunch of situational work in Tuesday's practice, including red zone and late game execution, and most practices this fall have included a two-minute drill for both the first- and second-teams.
"We kind of compiled, everybody in the staff went through and researched the last couple years on situations at the end of games on what we need to work on," Odom said. "You can't script it perfectly, but it also causes the opportunity to have staff discussion and learning and teaching. And hopefully when those situations we have a calmness about us and we know we've been there."