MISSOURI DEFENSIVE BACKS
Stats: Has 111 tackles, including 7.5 for loss, five interceptions and two forced fumbles in 39 career games. Had 59 tackles, including 4.5 for loss, one interception and one forced fumble in 12 games in 2015.
Analysis: Penton considered leaving school early for the NFL but opted to return for his final season. He’s been a full-time starter the past two seasons after making a couple starts as a freshman when E.J. Gaines was injured. Penton should be one of the Tigers’ top players on defense this season and will be tasked with the responsibility of covering the opponents’ top receivers, a challenge he has said he’s looking forward to.
Year: Redshirt junior
Stats: Has 77 tackles, including four for loss, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 26 games. Had 64 tackles, including four for loss, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 12 games in 2015.
Analysis: Sherrils was a breakout player for the Tigers in his first season as a starter a year ago and will be looking to build on that performance. The strong safety be able to anchor the back end of the defense with a new starter at the other safety spot.
Stats: Has 31 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and one fumble recovery in 25 career games. Had 14 tackles and one fumble recovery in 12 games in 2015.
Analysis: Wilson likely enters fall camp as the favorite to win the starting free safety spot held by Ian Simon a year ago. Wilson has more experience than some of the other contenders for that spot but the youngsters have talent and could make a push.
Analysis: A JUCO transfer from Hinds Community College in Mississippi, Taylor arrived on campus this summer with high expectations after a good career at East St. Louis (Ill.) High School. Can Taylor challenge Wilson and others for the open free safety spot? He’s definitely behind in terms of learning the system because everyone else had the benefit of spring practices. Still, he’s a talented prospect and it will be interesting to see how he performs throughout camp.
Stats: Had nine receptions for 129 yards and three tackles in 12 games in 2015.
Analysis: Hilton moved from defensive back to wide receiver as a true freshman a year ago but then moved back to safety in the offseason. Wherever he plays, Hilton looks like he’ll have a bright future with the Tigers. He’ll be a candidate for the starting free safety spot but even if he doesn’t win that job he’ll likely see some playing time as well as contributing on special teams.
Year: Redshirt freshman
Analysis: Perkins redshirted a year ago as a true freshman but was in the mix as one of the safety backups in the spring. He should be in the mix to compete for playing time at one of the safety spots but will definitely be a guy to watch for to see what he can contribute on special teams.
Year: Redshirt senior
Stats: Has 58 tackles, including one for loss, and two interceptions in 38 career games. Had 12 tackles and one interception in 12 games in 2015.
Analysis: Maybe the leading candidate for the starting cornerback spot held by Kenya Dennis a year ago, Gibson has more experience than the other potential options at that spot. Will he be up to the task? We’ll see. The Tigers have some younger options.
Year: Redshirt freshman
Analysis: Warren redshirted a year ago as a true freshman but was one of the Tigers’ starting cornerbacks for the Black & Gold Game in the spring. That certainly opened some eyes, but it may be too early to tell if that was a sign of things to come. Are the Tigers willing to go with such a young player as a starting cornerback? Warren certainly looks like a guy who will get playing time this season, which will set him up nicely for his future in Columbia.
Stats: Had two tackles in nine games in 2015.
Analysis: Hines saw action in nine games a year ago in his first season with the Tigers after transferring from San Mateo College in California. He should be in the mix for an increased role in 2016 but will have competition from Gibson and Warren and others.
Stats: Has 15 tackles, including one for loss, and one sack in 24 career games. Had 14 tackles, including one for loss, and one sack in 11 games in 2015.
Analysis: Cheadle established himself as a backup cornerback a year ago after playing special teams as a freshman in 2014. Is he ready for a larger role this fall? He’s got the experience to step up into one of the starting spots but there will be a lot of competition to contend with.
Year: True freshmen
Analysis: Holmes, a cornerback, and Acy, a safety, will be two players to watch to see how quickly they are able to earn playing time. The better they are early the more it should push other players, but will also set them up for bigger roles in the future.
This is definitely an area of concern for the defense because the Tigers return just two of four starters in the secondary.
The good news is those two starters, Penton and Sherrils, are good players who will solidify those two spots. Missouri should have plenty of good candidates for those other two spots, including a mix of experienced players and talented youngsters.
This will definitely be an area to watch not only during the 19 fall practice sessions but also into the season as there will likely be guys who emerge later on to make contributions.
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