Mervo defensive tackle Kamar Missouri made a name for himself in one year with the Mustangs. Now he plans to reap the rewards of his hard work by heading to Rutgers, becoming the first player from his school to play at a Power 5 Conference program.
Missouri, an All-Metro first-team selection, was an imposing force last fall for Mervo at 6 feet 5 and 255 pounds. He made opposing offenses feel the wrath of his combination of size and talent, recording 69 tackles (22 for a loss), eight sacks, five deflected passes and two fumble recoveries to help the Mustangs reach the Class 3A state semifinals.
He will be a welcomed addition to a 123rd-ranked Rutgers defense that allowed 36.7 points per game.
Before committing to Rutgers, Missouri’s recruitment interest mostly came from Football Championship Series programs and a couple of community colleges. He re-evaluated his decision when the coronavirus pandemic gave teams the ability to take a second look at other players and after a call from Mervo coach Patrick Nixon.
“I committed to a community college, once they cancelled the last SAT [exam],” Missouri said. “I panicked and committed to a [junior college] and everything was closed — I closed down my recruitment. I was pretty much locked in to go to Kansas. Coach Nixon called and said that the NCAA waived everything. So, my recruitment opened back up. He got a call from Rutgers and they talked to me a little bit, and they said ‘Just give us a couple of days and we can talk to the head coach.’ And that’s what I did.
“We were building a relationship. Meanwhile when I was talking to them, I was talking to other schools — Syracuse, Kent State, JMU [James Madison], and I got an offer from Hampton and Maine. But I pretty much had my mind set on where I really wanted to go and I broke it down to Syracuse, Rutgers and Kent State.”
Rutgers made the final push while the two other schools Missouri thought were “procrastinating.” The Scarlet Knights were able to schedule a video chat with the young defensive lineman and show him a virtual tour of the school. He went on to chat with an academic adviser and spoke to Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. Defensive backs coach Fran Brown, Missouri’s primary recruiter, was excited and didn’t want him to wait long and offered him a scholarship on the spot.
Missouri committed April 25, beginning a bond with the Big Ten program.
Schiano is making his return to Rutgers, where he was the coach from 2001 to 2011 before leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons and landing with Ohio State as the defensive coordinator from 2016 to 2018. Under Schiano, the Rutgers program blossomed, ranking as high as No. 7 nationally in 2006.
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Missouri thinks Rutgers is a great fit and he wants to be a part of the team’s resurgence.
“Before he left, they were winning,” Missouri said of Schiano. “Now that he’s back, I feel as though he’s definitely going to make some changes to make it a powerhouse. I feel like now they are rebuilding. I feel like it’s going to take a couple of pieces, and I feel like I could definitely be one of the pieces to that puzzle to get us where we need to be or where we’re going to be.”
He will remember his time fondly at Mervo, where his team finished with a 13-1 record. After playing for New Era Academy for three years, Missouri saw Nixon’s passion for his team and the ability to sculpt the team into winners.
“I could tell that they were definitely a good program because they set a blueprint for me,” Missouri said. “They told me what I needed to do and I pretty much followed it. I had deep trust in all of the coaches. So everything that they told me to do, I did it and that was the difference.”