COLUMBIA, Mo. — Michael Scherer didn’t hesitate.
When the Missouri redshirt senior middle linebacker was asked on Friday morning which of the Tigers’ defensive linemen might have a breakout season, Scherer answered quickly.
“Terry’s a freak,” Scherer said of sophomore defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. “Terry is Sheldon Richardson. Whatever you want to call him, Terry is a freak. If he can stay healthy, if he can continue to mature off the field and continue to mature learning the plays on the field, he’s a monster. I don’t know who’s going to get in the way of him.”
Beckner arrived in Columbia a year ago, out of East St. Louis (Ill.) High School, as one of the highest-rated recruits the school has ever had — he was rated by Scout.com as the 40th-best prospect in the Class of 2015 — and then lived up to that impressive billing with a strong debut season that earned him some accolades.
A 6-foot-4, 300-pounder, Beckner racked up 27 tackles, including 8.5 for loss, three sacks and a fumble recovery in 10 games before suffering a knee injury against BYU that ended his freshman campaign early.
He earned freshman All-American honors from the Sporting News and Football Writers Association of America, freshman All-Southeastern Conference (Coaches) honors and was selected as the Tigers’ interior lineman of the year.
Beckner said Friday he feels like he’s a little bit quicker and faster after rehabbing from the ACL and MCL injuries that cut short his freshman season, which is a scary proposition for opposing offensive linemen. He’s also learned some tips and tricks from the Tigers’ new defensive line coach, Jackie Shipp.
“He teaches a lot — use of hands, just little things, steps,” Beckner said. “The way you’re supposed to do it. He played in the league, so he knows the ropes and everything. He’s teaching us a whole lot of stuff.”
Beckner, who has been getting second-team reps throughout camp and rotating in at defensive tackle, could also get a boost from playing alongside 370-pound senior defensive tackle Josh Augusta.
“That’s a big dude,” Beckner said. “He’s taking up double teams. You’ll be open a lot more if you are in with him because he’s a big body and he’s fast and he can move. He can do everything.”
“There’s no way that one person is blocking him,” he added. “Sometimes two can’t even block him. That’s a monster.”
The same has been said about Beckner many times. Including by Scherer.
His new coach, Shipp, has been impressed with what he’s seen from the standout sophomore defensive tackle so far but knows that Beckner can become even better in the future.
“I’m impressed with his physical talent,” Shipp said Wednesday. “You’re talking about a big guy that has great feet, runs well, very good quickness, very good strength. He has all the tangibles to be an excellent, great defensive lineman. Now let’s put technique, fundamentals, understanding the defense and the game with that and he really has a chance to be something special.”
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