Missouri returns nine juniors and seniors who saw extensive action in 2013 on the defensive side of the football. All nine are expected to play major roles in the Mizzou defense this fall.
But the key to the success of the Missouri defense will depend on some younger players, including a number of sophomores and red-shirt freshmen.
On Tuesday, Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel was asked to share his thoughts about a trio of sophomore defenders who appear to be on track to play a lot this year. Following is his response:
"Harold Brantley played a lot last year," began Coach Pinkel."And he's almost like a starter. You know, we rolled in those three guys. And that, I think, obviously, is a real, real plus for us. They're real good football players.
And Josh Augusta is a real good, young player. He's a very talented athlete, and he'll get better and better and better. But, we've also got several (red-shirt) freshmen in there that are really, really good players, too. So, it's going to be a lot of competition. And it's going to be all good. And, I think we've got all the right people in the right spots."
Donavin Newsom is another sophomore who is going to play a major role in the Missouri defense this year. He's very good in coverage, and so far during his time at Missouri, he's practiced at both outside linebacker spots. This spring, he's on the weak side, which is a little more of an inside position. It's a demanding position in the Missouri defense that requires the versatility to stuff the run as well as to drop into coverage, and has typically featured Missouri's fastest, most-athletic linebacker. Coach Pinkel likes his athleticism. Now, he thinks Newsom just needs repetitions.
"Donavin Newsom is a real good athlete," said Coach Pinkel. "He's a talented player. He can run. He has good quickness, you know, all those things. Now, he's got to become a good football player. Once you get stronger, faster, and quicker, then you've got to apply that on the field. And that gets back to fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals."