The University of Missouri's offensive line will look at lot different at the start of spring practice this week than it did for the final regular season game last fall at Arkansas.
Left tackle Connor McGovern, center Evan Boehm, right guard Mitch Hall and right tackle Taylor Chappell have all exhausted their eligibility, leaving behind a group of youngsters looking to step into larger roles along the offensive line this spring and fall.
“I think if you look across the board for us competition is maybe the most important word because there’s going to be competition for every spot and on the offensive line there’s 10 or 12 guys that are fighting for five spots,” Missouri coach Barry Odom told Mizzou Network. “We have to find the two that can play tackle and then we’ve got to do a great job on interior three positions of center and the two guards on finding the rest of the group on who’s the top five.”
The only returning starter back from that season finale at Arkansas is Alec Abeln, who will be a redshirt junior this upcoming season. Abeln started at left guard against the Razorbacks but is expected to move back to center, where he had served as Boehm’s backup.
Besides Abeln, the Tigers return five offensive linemen from the two-deep depth chart at the conclusion of last season.
Redshirt junior Nate Crawford, a 6-foot-5, 300-pounder, has played left tackle, right tackle and left guard so far during his time at Missouri. He started four games at right tackle and four games at left guard last season.
Malik Cuellar is 6-5, 300-pound senior who served as the second-string left tackle last season. Sam Bailey, who played tight end in high school, is a 6-4, 270-pound redshirt sophomore who was listed as the backup center.
Those six players figure to have an edge at earning starting spots along the offensive line, but there will be competition.
Tyler Howell, a 6-8, 305-pound redshirt junior from Butler (Kansas) Community College, was part of the most recent recruiting class and is already on campus. Andy Bauer, a 6-3, 310-pound redshirt sophomore and A.J. Harris, a 6-4, 285-pound redshirt freshman, were both highly-regarded four-star prospects in high school.