One of Missouri recent junior college signees has travelled a long way before his final arrival in Columbia to begin classes January 19th.
Scout.com four star prospect middle linebacker Josh Tatum will graduate next week from San Francisco City College and will arrive at Missouri January 17th.
Tatum's journeys began three years ago when the standout linebacker thought he was living a dream, he signed out of high school to the University of Southern California (USC), the school he had always dreamed about playing at.
He spent a year attempting to recover from a previous knee injury, that process took longer that expected, instead of becoming a star with the Trojans, Tatum was in the process of learning a valuable lesson.
"I can't tell you how much I have learned and matured over the last three years," Tatum told InsideMizzou.com Monday night. "I have grown up a lot; I'm a lot better person and a better football because of everything that has happened."
Tatum redshirted his freshman year at USC and decided to transfer; he looked at several options including Miami, before going the junior college route.
He spent the last two years at San Francisco City College, where he had a standout year this past season.
"My knee is back to 100 percent," Tatum said. "It's great to be fully healthy again."
Tatum finished with 120 tackles, 15 for losses, 7 sacks and 7 pass breakups and one interception that he returned 93 yards for a touchdown.
He earned First Team All-American honors and first team All-Conference accolades.
Tatum had several options after this past season and chose the one that he felt the most comfortable with.
"I could have gone back to USC if I had wanted to," Tatum said. "I wanted to go somewhere I could make the most of the two years I have left. I wanted to choose a winning program that was going to contend on the national level, somewhere I could come in and make an immediate difference at, that's why I chose Missouri."
The standout defender fell in love with the campus and coaching staff on his official visit and knew instantly that Columbia was the place for him.
"I have come full circle in my life," Tatum said. "Now I'm ready to return to Division 1 football and accomplish the things that I set out to do, one is to win a national championship, we are capable of doing that at Missouri."
The Missouri coaching staff has made Tatum a high priority for this year's defense.
Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus came to see Tatum on Monday to visit with his future middle linebacker.
"Coach E spent most of the day with me on Monday," Tatum said. "He just wanted to answer any questions I might have about my transition, talked about the defense and about my move to Columbia in a couple of weeks."
Tatum is looking forward to playing next to standout Tiger linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and is very excited that the defensive leader decided to return for another year.
"He is a great player," Tatum said. "We will be awesome together, he is going to be my roommate when I first move to Missouri, I'm looking forward to getting to know him better and learn a lot from him about the defense."
Tatum appreciated the fact that Coach Eberflus came to see him and relay to him how much he is wanted and needed at Missouri.
"I love the coaching staff, the players I have met so far," Tatum said. "The team chemistry is more than I could ever imagine."
One thing that Coach Eberflus made clear to Tatum is the fact that they want the standout defender to be a leader for the Tigers from day one.
"They know I'm a warrior on the field," Tatum said. "They want me to be a leader on and off the field in Columbia, what I have gone through the last three years has prepared me for this role and for Missouri, I'm ready."
Tatum has already signed his letter of intent and can't wait to move to Missouri.
"Everyone doesn't get a second chance or a second opportunity in life," Tatum said. "I'm very fortunate and very blessed. I plan on making the most of this opportunity."