As the Missouri Tigers head into Spring Football, ShowMeMizzou.com takes a look at the linebacker position.
The Tigers return a pair of LBs with starting experience, and a couple of more LBs with extensive playing experience, albeit mostly on special teams. Heading into the spring, those experienced players will likely be listed as Missouri’s top four LBs.
Missouri LB Coach Dave Steckel likes to have his LBs learn more than one of the three LB positions, and some of his veteran LBs will have played, or at least practiced, at all three LB spots. That allows Missouri to play their three best LBs irrespective of position. That’s an important consideration to keep in mind as we preview the position. The Missouri staff will look to determine the Tigers’ starting (top three) LBs, then the number four LB, the number five LB, and so on.
With that in mind, the Tigers have one returning LB who has extensive experience, in senior Andrew Wilson. He's been a two-year starter, as well as the team’s leading tackler each of the past two seasons. Wilson has been Missouri’s best LB for the last two years, and there’s no reason to think that he won’t be again this year. The question heading into the spring is where Will Wilson play? Will he line up at the SLB, or the MLB? I suspect that during the spring, we may see Wilson play at both spots.
Senior Donovan Bonner made two starts at LB last season, and played extensively in other games, as well as playing a vital role on special teams during his Missouri career. Bonner has played all three LB spots at one time or the other during his time at Missouri, so he does allow Coach Steckel some flexibility in that regard.
Two LBs who have played quite a bit on special teams, and who have also played some at LB are junior Darvin Ruise and sophomore Kentrell Brothers. They’ll be in competition with Bonner for the two starting spots not manned by Wilson. Ruise is a talented athlete who has learned the two outside LB spots during his time at Missouri, while Brothers has played in the middle as well as on the strong side. Brothers may not begin the spring as a starter, but it’s my expectation that he will emerge from spring football as one of Missouri’s three starting LBs.
Behind those top four LBs, Missouri has a very talented and promising trio of red-shirt freshmen LBs who are expected to compete for spots on the two-deep depth chart. That trio includes RSF Torey Boozer, RSF Michael Scherer, and RSF Donavin Newsom. Scherer projects in the middle, while Boozer and Newsom are likely candidates on the outside. I expect this dynamic trio of RSF LBs to be heard from this spring and into the fall. Except for Wilson’s spot, the other two LB spots are pretty much up for grabs. Brothers and the trio of RSF LBs will very definitely challenge the veterans for those two spots.
The final scholarship LB on the roster is sophomore Clarence Green, a candidate at one of the outside positions, who will also be competing to move up the depth chart.
12 Darvin Ruise 6'1" 245 (J)
11 Torey Boozer 6’2” 230 (RSF)
25 Donavin Newsom 6'2" 230 (RSF)
49 Denzel Martin 5'10" 230 (S)
8 Donovan Bonner 6'1" 240 (S) 30 Michael Scherer 6'3" 235 (RSF)
54 Michael Brennan 6’2” 235 (S)
SLB 48 Andrew Wilson 6'3" 235 (S) 10 Kentrell Brothers 6'1" 240 (So)
40 Clarence Green 6'0" 225 (So)
43 Tanner Hull 6’0” 215 (F)