As Missouri finishes preparation for the beginning of fall camp, ShowMeMizzou.com puts the finishing touches on our position previews with a look at the Missouri defensive backs.
This may very well be the most-talented secondary that Coach Pinkel has put on the practice field during his Missouri tenure. And, it begins with one of the best to play the safety position for the Tigers during that decade-and-a-half, in Braylon Webb. The fifth-year senior really came on during last year’s 12-win season, as he registered 89 total tackles and 3 interceptions. With 30 starts among his 37 games played over the past three seasons, and with 189 career tackles, Webb is one of the most-experienced Tigers in the ZOU.
As Missouri heads into fall camp, there’s an exciting group of safeties who will be competing for the chance to line up alongside of Webb, or to be included in the playing rotation along with Webb.
If you’re looking for experience, there’s Ian Simon, who made 6 starts, and had 42 tackles and 5 pass-break-ups, in 13 games for Missouri a year ago. The junior has now played in 23 games for Mizzou, and he has 56 tackles over the past two seasons. He’s played in the nickel, as well as on the back end. Simon has shown quality coverage skills, and he will certainly be in the mix for a starting position, as well as a spot in the playing rotation. Simon has put in the off-season work, and a big season could be in the offing.
Duron Singleton played in 12 games a year ago, and he earned the trust of the Missouri staff in just his first year at Mizzou. The talented senior heads into fall camp having played primarily in the nickel last season, and that may be where we see him again. He was very good in the nickel a year ago, and his ability to play that position at a high level strengthened the Missouri secondary. That’ll be an interesting development to follow during fall camp. Will the Tigers try to integrate Singleton into the playing rotation or a starting job on the back end? Or, is he simply more valuable to the team taking all of his snaps as the nickel back?
Cortland Browning will be competing for a starting job at safety, as well as a spot in the playing rotation. Is this the year that the very talented junior puts it all together on the field and has an impact in the Missouri secondary?
Browning’s primary challenge for more playing time may come from a pair of very talented red-shirt freshmen, in Anthony Sherrils and Shaun Rupert. Sherrils might be Missouri’s fastest player. He is certainly among the most athletic. After his move this spring from corner to safety, the Missouri staff will be looking for a way to get his speed and athleticism on the field.
With two seniors and two juniors at the top of the Depth Chart, the Tigers are relatively experienced at the safety position. And, with several very talented young players pushing for playing time, the Tigers are in better shape at the safety position than they have been in years.
And despite the loss to graduation of a pair of starters from a year ago, the Tigers are in very good shape at corner, as well. It’s a young group, although three of the top four corners do have game experience, and there are a couple of starts, and a couple of interceptions, on their collective resume, as well. But overall, this is a young group of corners. Young, and very talented.
Entering fall camp, a pair of very talented sophomores who saw considerable playing time a year ago, Aarion Penton and John Gibson, are listed atop the Depth Chart. Their starting positions are sure to be challenged, first and foremost by a very talented newcomer, in Kenya Dennis. The mid-year junior-college transfer hit the ground running this spring, and he’ll be a serious candidate for a starting job this fall. For one thing, the junior has shown a nose for the football, and he’s not only very good in coverage, he’s very physical, as well.
Another mid-year enrollee, true freshman Logan Cheadle, had an impressive spring, as well. And, he enters fall camp well-positioned for a strong run at some playing time this fall. Coming out of the spring, Cheadle looked nearly ready to play. He just needed to add some muscle mass over the summer to fill out his youthful frame. If everyone stays healthy and plays up to expectations, Cheadle might not be needed, although I think it’s likely he’ll force his way into the rotation.
David Johnson played in 12 games last season. The junior is a solid, experienced back-up, who is well-positioned to make a push for a starting job. He might be ready for a break-out type of year.
In addition, there’s a pair of very talented true freshmen, in Raymond Wingo and Finis Stribling, either or both of whom could challenge for a spot in the rotation. They can both really run, and there are high expectations for each of them.
This may well be Coach Pinkel’s most-talented group of corners. They’re young. But, because there are enough of them with the obvious talent to be very, very good, the Missouri staff agreed to the move of Sherrils to safety. Of course, he could move back to corner, if needed. So, not only is there quality depth at both corner and safety, there’s crossover depth between the two positions, with multiple players like Sherrills and Dennis who can play either position.
There will be quality competition for playing time in the Missouri secondary. That kind of competition seems to bring out the best in everyone. This group will have to grow up fast, but if they stay healthy, they should be very good from the beginning. And because of their combination of youth and talent, this is a position group that should get better throughout the season.
Here’s kind of what the Depth Chart might look like in the secondary as the Tigers head into fall camp.
1 John Gibson 6’0” 185 (So)
7 Kenya Dennis 6’0” 200 (J)
28 Logan Cheadle 5’10” 175 (F)
31 Finis Stribling 5’11” 180 (F)
11 Aarion Penton 5’10” 185 (So)
3 David Johnson 5’11” 190 (J)
29 DeAndre McKenzie 6’1” 185 (J)
14 Raymond Wingo 6’0” 175 (F)
9 Braylon Webb 6’0” 205 (S)
2 Duron Singleton 6’1” 210 (S )
22 Anthony Sherrils 6’0” 195 (RSF)
13 Chaston Ward 6’1” 205 (So)
43 Michael Godas 6’0” 210 (So )
33 Thomas Wilson 5’11” 185 (F)
21 Ian Simon 6’0” 195 (J)
5 Cortland Browning 6’1” 205 (J)
19 Shaun Rupert 6’1” 185 (RSF)
10 Brock Bondurant 6’2” 215 (So)
32 Tavon Ross 6’0” 200 (F)