Top 10 players of the season: No. 8

As Missouri's date in the Independence Bowl draws closer, we move further up our list of the top 10 players of the season. At No. 8, we find a player who was instrumental in setting up the Tigers' offense by getting them great field position all season.

Marcus James never quite accomplished what he wanted to do as a receiver at Missouri.

As a kick returner, though, it was a different story.

James, a senior, set new Missouri career records in combined punt and kickoff returns and return yards, even with Shirdonya Mitchell taking his place on kickoff returns.

James showed better vision and decision-making this season on punt returns while having his best season in that category. He averaged 15.2 yards per punt return, which gave Missouri great field position all season. He also returned six kickoffs for 18.2 yards per return.

As a receiver, James moved down to Brad Smith's fourth or fifth option with the emergence of Sean Coffey and Smith's tendency to throw to the tight ends. James caught only seven balls for 83 yards, an average of almost 12 yards per catch and tied for the best average on the team.

But it was as a punt returner where James made his biggest impact this season, and his great season put him at No. 8 on Inside Mizzou's list of the top 10 players of the season.

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