Mizzou captures Nigerian 5-star defensive end

Edwin  - CEO August 16, 2023
Updated 2023/08/20 at 8:28 PM
6 Min Read
Lee's Summit North's Williams Nwaneri, left, sacks CBC's Patrick Heitert in a Missouri a Class 6 semifinal game on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, at CBC. Randy Kemp, special to STLhighschoolsports.com

Newly recruited Williams Nwaneri is already feeling genuine vibes inside the Tiger’s den


Five-star defensive lineman prospect Williams Nwaneri answers questions from the media after committing to the Unviersity of Missouri on August 14, 2023, in Lee's Summit, Mo.


Mizzou football fended off some grand challengers to secure a commitment from five-star edge rusher Williams Nwaneri on Monday, marking one of the most momentous days in Tigers coach Eli Drinkwitz’s tenure, Calum McAndrew reported for Columbia Daily Tribune.

From inside the gym at Lee’s Summit North High School in Kansas City, Nwaneri, the third-ranked player in his class on 247Sports and Rivals’ rankings, put on a Missouri cap, pledging his future to the Tigers over Oklahoma, Georgia, Oregon and Tennessee.


Here’s what the elite high school senior said to reporters following his commitment ceremony:


Why Mizzou?


“I feel like (the coaching staff) was genuine,” Nwaneri said. “It didn’t feel like they were trying to sell me something. It felt like it was real relationships.”


Nwaneri took five visits to Missouri, the first dating back to October 2021 and the most recent in late June.


Even if he wasn’t being sold something, he is in line to get quite a lot — and possibly quickly.




Nwaneri, under Missouri’s impending name, image and likeness laws passed under House Bill 417, is eligible to make money off of NIL as soon as Sept. 1, provided he has signed some form of written agreement with Mizzou. He meets the criteria to benefit from this nationally unique law because he is a Missouri high school student who is — as of Monday — committed to one of Missouri’s post-secondary institutions.


When did he tell the coaches?


“I had already been silently committed,” Nwaneri said. “I told (the coaches) like three, four weeks ago.”


Missouri fans might remember a pair of teaser tweets from Drinkwitz — gifs of the letter “W.”


When did the head coach send those out? July 23 and July 24.


Or … exactly three weeks before Williams Nwaneri’s commitment.


Even still, a silent commitment is far less comfortable ground than a verbal one. It took a little longer for the prospect to fully make up his mind.


“Probably about a week ago I knew 100% that it’s Mizzou,” Nwaneri said. “That’s when I made the decision.”


Five-star defensive lineman prospect Williams Nwaneri dons a University of Missouri hat to officially commit to MU on August 14, 2023, in Lee's Summit, Mo.

What kind of player is Missouri getting?


“They’re getting a positionally flexible player, a player that they can count on, really just a player that’s going to show up every day,” Nwaneri said.


And what kind of person is Missouri getting?


“They’re getting a great person, a caring person. Once I get there I’m gonna give 100% every day, show up every day,” he said.


The defensive end is the top-ranked player in Missouri and the top-ranked defensive player in the nation on all major recruiting services. It’s the second time in three cycles that Missouri has lured the top in-state player to stay inside Missouri’s borders, after Luther Burden III in the Class of 2022. He’s the sixth five-star talent planning to take their talents to Columbia, following Burden, Dorial Green-Beckham in the Class of 2012, Terry Beckner Jr. in 2015, Sheldon Richardson in 2009 and Blaine Gabbert in 2008.


Was the SEC important?



“It was very important. I feel like the SEC is the best of the best competition,” Nwaneri said. “It was a big part of my decision.”


It was widely reported that Missouri and Oklahoma were the frontrunners to land Nwaneri. Georgia and Tennessee also were interested, and the Lee’s Summit North product visited Oregon.


During his recruitment, those teams spanned three conferences.


Four out of five of those teams, by the time Nwaneri is eligible to play his first game in black and gold, will be in the SEC. The other will have swapped the Pac-12 for the Big Ten.


Oklahoma debuts in the Southeastern Conference next year. The Sooners are set to visit Memorial Stadium to face the Tigers in the regular season, setting up a potential meeting with Nwaneri, who they were favorites to land for long periods of his commitment.


Five-star defensive lineman prospect Williams Nwaneri smiles after his commitment ceremony on August 14, 2023, in Lee's Summit, Mo.

How actively will he recruit other players?


“I might get in their ear a little bit, but I’m gonna let them make their decision, too.”


Attention now turns to another five star from Missouri: Ryan Wingo.


Wingo, a wide receiver out of St. Louis University High School, is the No. 2-ranked player in the state, behind only Nwaneri. He doesn’t have a commitment date set, but the Tigers are well in the running for his pledge.


Missouri’s challengers: Georgia, Alabama and Texas are among the long list of other teams hoping to land the wideout.


If Wingo joins Nwaneri in choosing Missouri, it would be the first time in program history that the Tigers have landed two five-star prospects in the same cycle.


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