Tiger Spring Ball Outlook: Offensive Linemen

The Tigers will try to find their replacement for Tim Barnes and wathc their underclassmen battle for position on the depth chart


75 Jack Meiners  6'6" 305 (J)
73 Mark Hill   6'6" 260 (So)
70 Anthony Gatti  6'6" 280 (RSF)
79 John Birdwell 6'6"  265 (J)
51 Stephen Carberry  6'4"  240 (So)
72 Elvis Fisher  6'5" 292 (S) (injured) 
71 Jayson Palmgren  6'2" 305 (S)
65 Mitch Morse  6'6" 280 (RSF)
61 Max Copeland  6'3" 285 (So)   
53 Travis Ruth  6'3" 290 (J)
68 Justin Britt  6'5" 270 (So)
56 Robert Luce  6'2"  260  (RSF)
50 Steven Mack 6'1" 245 (RSF)
66 Austin Wuebbels  6'4" 300 (S) 
78 Nick Demien  6'6" 295 (RSF)
76 Quinn Brown    6'3" 250 (S)
70 Marvin Norman  6'2" 240 (S)
77 Dan Hoch  6'7" 315 (S)
67 Chris Freeman  6'8"  350  (So) 
     Mike Boddie  6'6"  275  (F) (injured)

Missouri returns four starting offensive linemen from 2010.  All four will be seniors in 2011, and all four will likely begin spring practice listed as the starter at their respective positions. 

Included are LT Elvis Fisher 6'5" 292, RT Dan Hoch 6'7" 315, RG Austin Wuebbels 6'4" 300, and LG Jayson Palmgren 6'2" 305.  Three of the four have received All-Conference recognition, and will return with at least two full seasons of starting experience.

Fisher was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention in 2010, and is a three-year starter.  He will miss all of spring practice following shoulder surgery.  Hoch is a two-year starter, and was named 2nd-Team All-Big 12 in 2010.  Wuebbels is another two-year starter, and was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention in 2010.  Reportedly, Wuebbels graded out higher than any of Missouri's OLs in 2010.

Palmgren is the one returning starter whose first-team status is the most vulnerable.

The primary candidates for the vacated starting center position are junior C/G Travis Ruth 6'3" 290, and sophomore C/G Justin Britt 6'5" 300, both of whom played extensively, and were very productive, in 2010.  I'm not sure which of these two will begin spring ball listed as the starting center, but both will be very much in the mix for a starting job in 2010, either at the vacated center spot, or at left guard.  Ruth is considered to be a very good technician, while I've heard Coach Pinkel say that Britt is the most athletic offensive lineman that he's had at Missouri.  Most consider Britt to have the higher ceiling.

The next most experienced OL is junior Jack Meiners 6'6" 305, who played considerably in 2010 as the Tigers' primary back-up offensive tackle.  Meiners has been impressive from Day 1, at Missouri, and possesses the ability to play RT, or LT.  Meiners will likely take over for Fisher during the spring.  If needed, Meiners could probably move inside, as well.  He's very athletic, and has the feet that the Missouri staff looks for in their OTs.

Sophomore OT Mark Hill 6'6" 260 will likely enter spring ball listed on the second unit, probably behind Meiners.  Or, he could see time on the right side.  This spring will be critical for Hill, who made great strides last season, after battling through injuries for most of two seasons.  Hill certainly looks the part of an OT, but will have to show well to fend off the challenges expected from his competition.

A quartet of RSF offensive linemen, which includes Mitch Morse 6'6" 280, Anthony Gatti 6'5" 280, Nick Demien 6'6" 295, and Chris Freeman 6'8" 330, will open spring ball in competition for spots on the two-deep depth chart, and a chance to get on the field in 2011.  Morse and Gatti began the 2010 season listed on the two-deep, but never saw the field.  Morse will likely open spring practice listed on the second unit, and should be considered something of a favorite to log playing time in 2011.  Whether he can dislodge one of the starters will be of particular interest.

Gatti will provide serious competition for Hill at LT, or could move to the right side, if needed.  Gatti's another one to watch.  So is Demien.  He may well begin the spring listed on the second unit, at RG.  He has some work to do to solidify his hold on a back-up role, but also possesses the talent to challenge for a starting spot.
I'm looking forward to seeing what I expect to be continued progress from Freeman.  He made great strides last season, and appears to be on track to develop into a quality OT.

True freshman, Michael Boddie 6'6" 275, will be in attendance during the spring, but is not expected to participate in contact drills, as he is recovering from knee surgery.

Of the walk-ons, sophomore Max Copeland 6'3" 285, junior John Birdwell 6'6" 265, senior Quinn Brown 6'3" 250, RSF Robert Luce 6'2" 260, sophomore Stephen Carberry 6'4" 240, RSF Steven Mack 6'1" 245, and senior Marvin Norman 6'2" 240 are candidates this spring to fill out the third team offense.

The biggest question to be addressed up front is the identity of the Tigers' starting center.  After that is the question of whether Palmgren holds onto a starting spot, and how the primary back-ups, and the second unit shapes up.


ShowMeMizzou.com Spring Ball Outlook

The story of spring practice 2011 regarding the offensive line will be finding a suitable replacement for Tim Barnes. I fully expect that to be Justin Britt by the end of practice. That is not to dismiss Travis Ruth entirely, but more about what I think of Britt's ability and talent. The bottom line is that you hope to have the position settled by the Black & Gold game.

The other starting positions have returning starters, but it will be a good opportunity for some of the younger players to showcase their ability.

Hill and Gatti at left tackle will be a competition to watch closely, as will the development of Nick Demien, Chris Freeman, and especially Mitch Morse, who could provide a real test for Palmgren.

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