COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- The recent conference realignment saga that threw college sports into a tailspin hasn't deterred Missouri's 2011 football recruits from keeping their commitments.
The Columbia Daily Tribune reported last week that four in-state players who have verbally agreed to join the Tigers next year remain committed to the school. Another six recruits have pledged to attend Missouri in 2011.
The local recruits are wide receiver Wesley Leftwich of Columbia Hickman; running back Anthony Pierson of Gateway Tech in St. Louis; Lee's Summit quarterback Corbin Berkstresser; and wide receiver/tight end Brandon Hannah from Chaminade.
Prized defensive line recruit Sheldon Richardson is also expected in Columbia next year. The former Gateway Tech star committed to Missouri in 2009 but instead played at College of the Sequoias in California for academic reasons.
Leftwich said he was headed to Missouri regardless of where the school landed. Missouri was widely considered a favored choice for an expanding Big Ten, but the conference instead took Big 12 rival Nebraska. Colorado's departure to the Pac-10 left the Big 12 with 10 members.
"I really wasn't paying attention to it that much," Leftwich said. "Of course, I wanted Mizzou to stay in the Big 12 because that's a great conference. But I talked to (receivers coach Andy) Hill and he told me they were going to keep the same offense no matter which conference they're in."
Remaining in the Big 12 means Missouri can continue to recruit heavily in Texas, home to four of the school's 2011 recruits. With a proposed nine-game conference schedule, the Tigers will play more games in the Lone Star State.
Pierson's status may be the most uncertain. He is expected to transfer to East St. Louis, Ill., for his senior season, and Rivals.com recruiting analyst Jeremy Crabtree expects Pierson to attract even more attention after the move.
"I'd have to imagine he'd still be in the top five in the state of Illinois," said Crabtree. "There are more players to recruit in the state of Illinois, but Anthony's still one of the better players in the country."' Along with Leftwich and Pierson, Missouri has verbal commitments from in-state players Corbin Berkstresser, a quarterback from Lee's Summit, and Brandon Hannah, a wide receiver/tight end from Chaminade.
With only 10 scholarship seniors on the current roster, Missouri is expected to have a smaller recruiting class by the time letters of intent are collected in February. The NCAA limits schools to signing 25 recruits per year, but with fewer spots to fill, Missouri can afford to be selective with its scholarship offers.
Missouri could still miss out on two of the state's top-ranked recruits.
Blue Springs running back Darian Miller committed to Kansas in March but has since backed off his pledge. He's considered the No. 1 recruit in Missouri by Rivals.com.
And Rockhurst tight end Dan Tapko, rated No. 3 by the scouting service, chose Oklahoma over a list of finalists that included Notre Dame and Nebraska.
Information from the Columbia Daily Tribune, www.columbiatribune.com
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)