The Missouri football team expanded its 2017 recruiting class with the addition of a player formally pledged to Alabama.
The Tigers announced on Thursday the signing of defensive tackle Akial Byers. He pushes Missouri’s 2017 class to 26 members.
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Byers, who is from Fayetteville High School in Arkansas, is rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, ESPN and Scout.com and a three-star recruit by 247Sports.com.
Byers previously committed to Alabama, but he signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in February after qualification concerns.
However, he is now expected to qualify and enroll at Missouri this summer.
Fayetteville defensive line coach Scott Davenport said Byers attained the ACT score needed to qualify in February, reopening his Division I opportunities. He visited Missouri last weekend and was on hand for the spring game.
Byers was high school teammates with quarterback Taylor Powell, who signed with MU in February, and Barrett Banister, who is expected to join the Tigers as a walk-on wide receiver.
Byers also had offers from Arkansas State, Florida State, Iowa State, Memphis, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Purdue, according to ESPN.
Davenport said Byers’ quickness is his top attribute.
“His foot speed and hand speed are definitely assets of his,” Davenport said during a phone interview. “He’s able to defeat blocks because he uses his hands so well. That’s really why he was able to make plays from sideline to sideline – his foot quickness and being able to read a block, get off of it and accelerate off of a block to make a tackle.”
Davenport added that Byers has a knack for forcing fumbles.
“I can’t tell how many times he’s stuck a big paw in there when a running back is going by," Davenport said. "You shake this guy’s hand, and you kind of lose your fingers. Those hands let him do some special things on the football field.”
Byers joined a class already heavy on defensive tackles. Rashad Brandon, a junior college transfer, enrolled this semester, and junior college transfers Malik Young and Walter Palmore, plus high school products Caleb Simpson and Kobie Whiteside, are set to enroll this summer.