- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
Missouri’s move to the Southeastern Conference hasn’t been an easy one. The Tigers already have lost their first three conference games and are now preparing to host Alabama, the No. 1 team in the nation, Saturday.
On a positive note, the move to the SEC has helped Missouri open recruiting pipelines to states such as Florida and Georgia. Even though 12 of the Tigers’ 15 Class of 2013 commitments are home-grown prospects, several remaining targets come from other parts of the Southeast.
Still, Gary Pinkel and his staff aren’t recruiting at quite the level as the Crimson Tide.
The biggest recruiting battle between the two schools came last year with five-star wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the nation’s No. 3 player in the ESPN 150 rankings and a native of Springfield, Mo.
Green-Beckham visited Alabama in the spring and had the Tide among his top schools for the majority of his recruitment, along with Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and of course, Missouri. In the end, he just wanted to stay close to home.
As a freshman, the 6-foot-6 wide receiver has seven catches for 128 yards and a touchdown through his first five games, but he was suspended for Missouri’s loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday for a drug-related arrest. His status for the Alabama game remains up in the air.
Before Green-Beckham, the last notable recruiting battle between the Tide and the Tigers came during Nick Saban’s first year, in 2008, when Alabama made a push to land former ESPN 150 quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Though the Tide got him on a visit, Gabbert ultimately chose to stay in state and signed with Missouri -- where he developed into a first-round NFL draft pick.
For 2014, Alabama has its sights set on another Missouri native, ESPN Watch List offensive lineman Andy Bauer. The 6-foot-6, 304-pound Bauer committed to Missouri in April but has since picked up offers from Alabama and LSU, among others.
He visited Tuscaloosa during the summer, and he’s looking to return for a game this fall. He said he’d also like to visit LSU, and there’s a good chance he will attend Saturday's Alabama-Missouri game in Columbia, Mo.
1dJeremy Crabtree and Brandon Chatmon