Missouri Football Deep Dive
After a few fruitful seasons in the SEC, Missouri Football has experienced some rough years as of late. The Tigers had a disappointing outing in 2019 and will lose key starters in Kelly Bryant, Albert Okwuegbunam, and Jordan Elliott. However, Eliah Drinkwitz comes in as head coach after leading App State to a 12-1 record. Drinkwitz is only 37 years old and will bring a different type of energy to the team.
Kelly Bryant is out after 1 year and they’ll need to replace him. Redshirt Junior Shawn Robinson looks to be the favorite at this point to be the first QB in the Drinkwitz era with Connor Bazelak challenging for the position.
Larry Rountree III is the big name on the offensive side on the ball. Rountree has been on the radar of Draft Twitter these last few years, but has decided to stay for his senior season. He’s a multi-year starter and has been productive over the course of his career. He will need to be more efficient in 2020 to have any serious consideration as a draft pick. Tyler Badie is a rising Junior who will spell Rountree.
Despite losing Jonathon Johnson, the WR group is in pretty good shape in 2020. Damon Hazelton transferred in from Virginia Tech as a grad transfer. Hazelton will demand a large percentage of targets. Jalen Knox and Barrett Banister will complement Hazelton and will make for a solid group to give Shawn Robinson as much help as possible. Also watch out for true freshman, Javian Hester to contribute in some way.
Albert Okwuegbunam held down the starting TE role the past few years, but now that he’s gone to the NFL they’ll have to find a way to replace him. Daniel Parker Jr. has showed flashes in a limited role, but still has a lot to prove. Logan Christopherson is also back at tight end and could push for a bigger role in 2020.
It was a surprise to many when Trystan Colon-Castillo declared for the NFL Draft. This was a big loss to the offensive line. Hyrin White should be the starter at left tackle with Larry Borom being the bookend on the other side. Case Cook and Xavier Delgado are the favorites to start at each guard position with Luke Griffin likely rounding out an inexperienced offensive line at the center position.
Jordan Elliott brought a lot of juice as a pass rusher in 2019. His time with Tigers has come to an end and is now a Cleveland Brown. The Tigers have been a team that routinely push out some exciting defensive line talent. The next of that lineage is Kobie Whiteside, who I highlighted in my Filing Cabinet Friday series. Whiteside played next to Elliott this past season and I couldn’t help but notice how dominant he was. He’s one of my favorite interior defensive lineman going into 2020. Akial Byers will start next to Whiteside on the interior with Chris Turner and Tre Williams on the edges. Williams is an experienced player for the Tiger and will be a key contributor to this front 7.
Nick Bolton returns at linebacker and is the most recognizable player on the team. Bolton will be a leader for the Mizzou defense and is one of the top linebackers in the nation, he’s now also draft eligible after this season. Devin Nicholson will see a significant amount of time at the Will linebacker spot next to Bolton.
DeMarcus Acy was a key loss for the Tiger’s secondary, but it’s not going to be too hard to replace him. Jarvis Ware and Adam Sparks are upperclassmen who will both start on the perimeter at corner. In the nickel spot, it will likely be Stacy Brown to start out the season. The two high safeties, Joshuah Bledsoe and Tyree Gillespie have been recognized by Jim Nagy and his staff for the Senior Bowl. They will be big time contributors on this defense and will need to also step up as leaders.