For the second straight season, junior LB Andrew Wilson led Missouri in tackles with 79 total tackles. Wilson's 4 forced fumbles were tied for the team lead. And despite usually being the LB who came off of the field in passing situations when the Tigers went with an extra defensive back, his 4 pass-break-ups was tops among Missouri's LBs. Wilson also recorded 2.5 tackles-for-loss, 0.5 sacks, 2 QB-hurries, and 1 fumble recovery. For his career, Wilson has 219 total tackles. He's an aggressive, hard-hitting, sideline-to-sideline defender who attacks ball-carriers at the line of scrimmage.
Fifth-year senior LB Will Ebner made 75 tackles, and had a team-high 10.5 TFLs on the season. Ebner also registered 1 sack, 2 QB-hurries, 1 PBU, and 1 forced fumble. Early in his Missouri career, Ebner's was known as a hard-hitting run-stuffer. By the time that the 2012 season had gotten underway, Ebner had made significant improvement in his pass-coverage ability. Ebner leaves Missouri with 224 total tackles on his ledger, along with 24 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, 3 PBUs, and 3 forced fumbles.
Another fifth-year senior, LB Zaviar Gooden, made 10 starts for the Tigers in his final campaign, and he registered 61 total tackles, including 4 TFLs. Gooden, who is known for his pass-coverage ability, also recorded 1 PBU, 1 interception, and 2 fumble recoveries. Gooden came to Missouri as a safety, but was quickly moved to LB, where he has developed amazing physical attributes, including a 4.3 forty time and a vertical jump in the 40" range in team testing. And to be sure, Gooden's pass-coverage ability has been demonstrated. But, Gooden usually played the LB position as if he were a safety, meeting ball-carriers down field, rather than coming across to meet them at or behind the line of scrimmage. He rarely knocked a ball-carrier backward. On the other hand, Gooden was terrific in pursuit, and his speed on the outside made it difficult for opponents to flank the Tigers and get outside. Gooden leaves Missouri with 256 career total tackles, 20.5 TFLs, and 5 interceptions.
Missouri's number four LB, junior Donovan Bonner, saw action in 11 games this season, and he made 2 starts. He played in the middle, as well as on the weak side. Bonner made 39 total tackles during 2012, including 2 TFLs. He forced 4 fumbles, which gave him a share of the team lead. He also recorded 1 QBH, 1 PBU, and 1 interception. Bonner is a physical player who has also been very good on special teams. Going forward, he's one of just two LBs with starting experience who are set to return for the Tigers next year.
RSF Kentrell Brothers is a rapidly improving LB who saw his playing time increase during the 2012 season. He established himself as an important special teams player, and he saw time at LB, as well. On the season, Brothers played in 11 games for the Tigers, and he recorded 14 tackles and 1 PBU. Brothers shows considerable promise, with very good ball skills, in addition to being a physical, hard-hitting defender. Look for him to move into a starting role forthwith.
Sophomore LB Darvin Ruise played in all 12 games for Missouri during 2012. He was an integral part of the Tigers special teams, and he saw action at LB, as well. On the season, Ruise made 7 tackles. He's another outstanding athlete who gained experience while making a valuable contribution on the field.
RSF LB Clarence Green played in 1 game during 2012 and he made 1 tackle.