If first impressions mean anything, Tigers wide receiver Barrett Banister is all in.

Eliah Drinkwitz, introduced Tuesday morning as the 33rd head coach in Missouri football history, will be his new leader.

Drinkwitz comes to Missouri after spending only one season as head coach at Appalachian State, where he led the nationally ranked Mountaineers to a 12-1 record and a Sun Belt Conference championship.

“I think it’s an awesome hire,” Banister said. “You can tell he is a great leader of men and I think that is something you look for in your coach. He cracked a couple of funny jokes up there and I’m excited to get to work with him.”

Banister, who recently finished his sophomore season with the Tigers and also grew up in Arkansas like Drinkwitz, said the new head coach's vision was the main thing that stuck out to him after Drinkwitz's first meeting with Missouri players Monday night.

“He talked about winning the (Southeastern Conference) East and winning our bowl game and doing it with class, character and academic excellence, and I think that’s awesome,” Banister said. “You have to have a foundation of what you’re building on, and he has that vision. We are excited to get to work with him.”

Innovative is another word that Banister used to describe Drinkwitz, who has been a key element to the success of each team he's helped coach in his career. As an assistant and head coach, Drinkwitz's teams have won five conference championships while compiling eight bowl wins in 10 seasons. The combined record of those teams from 2010-19 is 98-34 overall, including a 57-22 conference mark.

“He talked about (Boise State head coach) Bryan Harsin and (Auburn head coach) Gus Malzahn and kind of where his ideas of offense came together, and that’s two pretty good offensive minds to come from,” Banister said. “Harsin did a really good job at Boise State this year with that offense, and Malzahn just won the Iron Bowl against Alabama, scoring 40-plus points, so I think that’s awesome.

“And then coach Drinkwitz put some of his own recipe in there. I think it’s a great mixture along with his pro-style concepts and tempo. That’s what you look for in an offense, especially from a receiver standpoint.”

Drinkwitz said Tuesday he would also serve as the Tigers' offensive coordinator to start his tenure, becoming the team's primary play caller.

Quarterback Connor Bazelak, a true freshman this past season, likes the thought of having an offensive-minded coach calling the plays next season.

Bazelak played in three games in 2019, starting the season finale before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament against Arkansas. Bazelak expects to be ready for the 2020 season after undergoing surgery later this week.

As North Carolina State's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2016-18, Drinkwitz recruited Bazelak before he chose to commit to Missouri.

“He’s a really smart guy, really likes to build relationships with all of his players and his recruits,” Bazelak said of Drinkwitz.

Bazelak said it’s also nice having a coach come in who he has known for about a year and a half.

“I’ve always thought he has been really intelligent outside of football and with the game,” Bazelak said. “I have always been impressed with the way he carries himself and how he is determined to succeed in the future.

"Nowadays, it’s kind of what guys are looking for. ... They love guys who are high-energy, bring a lot of energy to the team, to the fans. He’ll be good for us.”

Defensive end Chris Turner said he's ready to get to work with Drinkwitz. Turner played in all 12 games for the Tigers this year and made 22 tackles, including two for loss.

“I don’t plan on leaving,” Turner said. “I have one year left, so there really is no plan on me leaving. I’m going to give coach Drinkwitz all I’ve got and try to keep the other guys around here, too."

Turner said he doesn’t know much about Drinkwitz right now but likes his passion.

“Going from here forward, I’m going to try to learn as much as I can about him,” Turner said. “I don’t think there was anything negative said after the meeting with the players. (Drinkwitz) gave a good first impression on everybody. He came in and he said he is going to put us in position to win the SEC East and then go to the SEC championship, and then the national championship. I feel like that should be our goal every year.”

Drinkwitz already has built bridges with future players as well. Class of 2020 commit Jay Maclin, the cousin of former Missouri great Jeremy Maclin, said he is happy Drinkwitz is coming to Missouri and that he intends to make good on his commitment to the Tigers.

“I’m excited to meet him and build a relationship with him,” Jay Maclin said. “He seems like a pretty chill coach. I know he’ll give his all into the program and try his best to win for the state of Missouri.”

cbowie@boonvilledailynews.com