The Tigers are hoping to replace Akayleb Evans with a player who boasts a similar playing style.
Do you like 6-foot-3 cornerbacks with long arms and a willingness to play the run? Mizzou sure does!
Length has become a priority for Mizzou on the back end in recent seasons. The only cornerbacks measuring in under 6-foot are Kris Abrams-Draine and freshman Marcus Scott II. Last year’s prized additions – Allie Green IV and Akayleb Evans – both measured in at 6-foot-2.
The latest long cornerback to join Missouri’s secondary is Les “LJ” Hewitt. He spent last season at Holmes Community College in Mississippi and transferred to Mississippi Gulf Coast for the spring semester. He was previously listed as a 2023 recruit, but he’s reportedly eligible to reclassify and he now plans to enroll at Mizzou this summer in order to play in the fall. He has four years of eligibility remaining with the ability to play three.
— JUCO Football Frenzy (@JUCOFFrenzy) May 23, 2022
Where he fits: Hewitt has the size of a safety, but the expectation appears to be he will begin his time at Missouri at cornerback. His ability to stick at corner will depend on how his size, speed and change of direction ability translates to the SEC level. His HUDL film highlighted a player willing to help in the run game. His “trump card” is his length, and he seems to know how to use it. He gets his hand on the ball with consistency even when his technique gets him out of position.
When he’ll play: This seems to be up for debate. Missouri’s nickel spot is probably spoken for with Kris Abrams-Draine, who played well down after making the transition to the defensive side of the ball last season. Ennis Rakestraw is expected to start outside on one side, but who starts opposite him? Will it be DJ Jackson? Could Daylan Carnell or Marcus Scott earn more snaps? Where do Dreyden Norwood and Dayvion Sistrunk fit into the mix?
Hewitt enters a room full of uncertainty, with ample opportunity to earn snaps sooner rather than later.
What it all means: Missouri’s coaching staff clearly had a plan this offseason to add more proven talent to the defensive side of the ball. They added Tyrone Hopper, DJ Coleman, Jayden Jernigan, Josh Landry and Ian Mathews to the defensive line. Hewitt joins Ty’Ron Hopper, Norwood and Joseph Charleston as the transfer additions in the back seven. That’s nine additions on defense alone. Think they wanted to add some talent to that side of the ball? I would say that’s a safe assumption.
Missouri’s veteran cornerback additions (Norwood and Hewitt) this offseason couldn’t be more different. Norwood is a former stud recruit out of high school who makes up for his lack of size with his speed and quickness. Hewitt was an under-recruited high school player who required a stint at JUCO in order to capture the attention of power five coaching staffs. What he lacks in speed, he more than makes up for in size.
The Tigers don’t have many positional battles going into fall ball, but cornerback is certainly one of them. It will be interesting to see how everything shakes out. The starting lineup could tell us a thing or two about what qualities new defensive coordinator Blake Baker prioritizes in his defensive backs.