JOEY BURKETT STARTED
attending Missouri football games when he was 5.
He's attended more than 40 games in his life, maybe more than 50.
For at least the next four or five years, however, he won't need a ticket.
Burkett's dream became a reality Wednesday, as the Jefferson City Jays senior signed a national letter of intent to play football for the Tigers.
"I'm very excited; I'm so excited I don't know what to say," Burkett said. "I've always wanted to be a Missouri Tiger.
"I remember being a little kid and dreaming about playing Missouri football."
Isn't it fabulous when dreams come true? The Dream Catcher is Gary Pinkel.
"Joey's a really, really good football player," said the Missouri head coach. "He's physical, he runs well and he's a great competitor.
"He's just got great potential."
The 6-3, 200-pound linebacker --- who was rated a 3-star recruit (more on that to come) --- says he's not sure if he'll be red-shirted this fall. Either way, first things first, as Burkett makes the move from high school football to the SEC.
We all hate moving, but some moves are tougher than others.
"It's going to start with weight lifting, getting a lot bigger, a lot stronger and a lot faster," Burkett said. "I'll worry about the rest when that's done.
"It will be a big change in my life and I'm looking forward to very second of it."
Jays coach Ted LePage is certain Burkett will make the change smoothly.
"He's so explosive and he's got such great lateral speed," LePage said. "In football, you have to be able to change directions so quickly, and he can do that as well as anyone I've seen at his position.
"That makes him a very special player. In addition, he's got great mental toughness and he has a great ability to learn. And when he grabs you, his hands are so strong, you're not going to get away from him. He's going to put you on the ground.
"I really believe he'll do nothing but flourish."
LePage added this: "Good players play well; great players play well and make everybody around them better. Joey's one of those players."
Burkett totaled 115 tackles his junior year, before his senior season was cut short by an ankle injury that required surgery. That injury, he says, is no longer and issue.
"I'm good, I'm 100 percent," said Burkett, who will attempt to defend his pole vault state championship this spring.
He'll certainly give the pole vault his best shot, but he's already chomping at the bit to walk onto Faurot Field --- no ticket required, thanks --- as a Tiger.
"It's going to be an amazing feeling," he said, "and I can't wait for it. It's still hard to believe."
A LOT OF people in this country have too much time on their hands.
If you watch Jerry Springer, you're one of them.
If you spend more time on Facebook than sleeping and eating, you're another.
If you watch Richard Simmons do anything, well, that goes a lot deeper than just wasting time.
The "experts" who hand out "star-ratings" to high school football players are at the top of this list. Like these guys and gals have actually witnessed the high school careers of every player in the country.
These experts are as accurate as the folks who predict the weather. Sometimes they're right, sometimes they're wrong. (Except for Zach Paul, Zac Evans and Jessica Troike, of course, who are always right. :o)
Roll the dice. Flip a coin. Leg-wrestle. Compete in a sack race. Then make the call.
And hope it's right.
Take last year. Missouri landed 5-star recruit Dorial Green-Beckham, who was considered the best player in the nation at ANY position. DGB is a wide receiver and he was already considered to be Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss all rolled into one. Go ahead and make his Hall of Fame bust, already.
Then last fall, DGB had just slightly more impact on the field than Truman the Tiger.
Meanwhile, Johnny Manzell --- who was considered just a 3-star recruit --- went to Texas A&M. Hmmm, how did that work out?
Let's compare the two:
* One guy accounted for 47 touchdowns, helped defeat eventual-national champion Alabama, and won the Heisman Trophy.
* The other guy accounted for five touchdowns and now has an arrest record.
Just like astrology, don't bet on the stars.
"I've never looked at stars or rankings since I've been a coach. Ever," Pinkel said. "I think our evaluation system has proved, overall, that it works."
Good for Gary.
Having said that, it's time to look at how the stars might align for the Tigers after Wednesday's national signing day. Besides Burkett, here are Missouri's other signees (including the number of stars, size, position and hometown):
* Chase Abbington (4 stars) 6-4, 210 pounds, position listed --- athlete, St. Peters
* Alex Abeln (3) 6-4, 275, offensive line, St. Louis
* Josh Augusta (3) 6-5, 275, defensive line, Peoria, Ill.
* Eric Beisel (3) 6-4, 235, linebacker, Fenton
* Nate Crawford (3) 6-4, 260, defensive line, Pensacola, Fla.
* Harneet Gill (3) 6-7, 260, offensive line, St. Charles
* Charles Harris (NR) 6-4, 220, defensive line, Kansas City
* Trent Hosick (3) 6-2, 215, quarterback, Kansas City
* A.J. Logan (3) 6-2, 310, defensive line, Columbia
* Marcus Loud (3) 6-4, 235, defensive line, Houston, Tex.
* J'Mon Moore (3) 6-3, 175, wide receiver, Missouri City, Tex.
* Aarion Penton (3) 5-9, 165, athlete, St. Louis
* Eddie Printz (3) 6-4, 212, quarterback, Marietta, Ga.
* Jason Reese (3) 6-4, 220, tight end, Euless, Tex.
* Clay Rhodes (3) 6-6, 265, offensive line, Stilwell, Kan.
* Shaun Rupert (3) 6-2, 180, defensive back, Montgomery, Ala.
* Anthony Sherrils (3) 6-1, 174, athlete, Kansas City
* Duron Singleton (NR) 6-1, 210, defensive back, Fresno, Cal.
* Antar Thompson (3) 6-3, 295, defensive line, Maplewood
"We're really excited about this class and we feel really good about it," Pinkel said. "What you want to do is hit your minimum numbers at each position and for the most part, we did that.
"We recruit speed potential, athletic potential. And I thought overall, we really did good within in the state, and that's very important to us."
For what it's worth, and according to the "experts" at ESPN, Missouri's recruiting class is ranked 37th in the country --- and just 11th in the SEC. And if you're curious, it would have been ranked No. 6 in the Big 12, which actually only has 10 teams.
Disappointed? Well, the last two years, Missouri's recruiting classes were ranked 48th.
Time will tell, not the stars.