To Those Who’ve Shed the Shirt, We Salute You

The Tiger’s current depth chart features eight true freshmen just hours before the 2015 season kicks off. Two are on offense, five on defense, and a special teamer. These are the men guilty of trashing Gary Pinkel’s reputation as a squanderer of men’s nineteenth year on the planet. And here’s a rundown of those same players in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly fashion.

 

THE HEADLINERS

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Drew Lock: The heir apparent’s status on the active roster makes headlines, but it also makes waves. Lock was on point through camp and earned the back-up spot ahead of a slinger (Eddie Printz) who has been in the system for three years. He also passed RS FR Marvin Zanders, who was said to be on the verge of skipping the shirt last season. Bottom line is: this is a monumental decision. If Lock plays out his eligibility (and for those of you you don’t believe he will, just remember that record-setting NFL prototype Sam Bradford played out his eligibility [and, no, I’m not comparing the two (but it would be great to have a college-game Bradford in your back pocket)]) all of the QB’s on the roster will be gone by the time he’s done, and he’ll only have two season’s as Pinkel’s (probably) uncontested starter.

That means Mizzou probably needs to jump on the QB bonannza for the ’17 cycle.  Which shouldn’t prove too difficult considering the last four QB’s to be full-time starters at Mizzou are currently getting paid to play football (Brad Smith: Eagles, Chase Daniel: Chiefs, Blaine Gabbert: 49ers, James Franklin: Edmonton Eskimos.) And so far, Mauk has appeared in two SEC Championship games and two winning bowl efforts. Scary to think a kid with his W/L record is being given the pinata treatment by fans as the bum of the bunch (MIZ- QB U?)

Pinkel was sure to say that this decision was not about Mauk. But it has to be at least a little about Mauk. The coaching staff never made much of a secret about their displeasure with Mauk’s lack of consistency. A big part of consistency is accuracy.

Lock has been pin point.

 

350_terry_beckner_jr_mizzou_3Terry Beckner Jr: Opposite of Lock on the surprise scale, the utility of TBJ’s freshman season will be massive in light of Harold Brantley’s absence. The interesting thing to think about here is how one season’s dearth becomes another season’s girth. Josh Augusta and Rickey Hatley were “far and away” the best defensive tackles when one coach was asked at the conclusion of summer camp. Meaning that Hatley outperformed one of the top overall recruits in the nation (some believe Beckner to have been the top recruit of his cycle.) Add fellow freshman Josh Moore’s experience this season and when Brantley returns, the weak, three man rotation this season becomes four starter-quality/at least three NFL-quality DT’s plus an up-and-comer. And that’s not to say anything about the DE’s.

It will be interesting, also, to watch the progress Beckner makes throughout the season. How good can the kid be? How quickly can he get there? I think a lot of the second answer depends on how many snaps Beckner sees in the non-con. If he’s fully primed by the time South Carolina waltzes into the Zou on October third, watch out.


 

THE NECESSARY 

Josh MooreJosh Moore: Do I think Josh Moore is the type of athlete who plays as a true frosh at 80% of power five schools? Yeah. Do I think there are plenty of previous iterations of Mizzou CFB squads that would have loved the opportunity to play Moore as a true frosh? Yeah. But MIZ-DL U is supposed to be past that. Injuries and dismissals have put Moore on the depth chart in what should be a redshirt season. Moore is an exceptional talent (good enough that tOSU accepted him as an early commitment) but he plated TE and DE in high school and it’s a lot to ask a kid to make the switch from long, high school athlete into SEC caliber run-stopper in just a few months.

But Moore has begun the transformation. And he’s been successful enough that it appears he may have passed RS SO AJ Logan on the depth chart.

Here’s something to ponder with all of the turnover for Mizzou’s line recently- Brantley will be back next year. Let’s pretend Augusta returns as well (though the NFL pays a premium for athletic fellas who are that big.) The next season (2017) will be Beckner and Moore’s junior seasons. Hard to imagine Beckner having to stay around for four seasons to earn a league-ready grade. Will Moore? Could the DL shelf be in dire need of restocking come this very next recruiting cycle? Are rhetorical questions a terrible gimmick for speculative sports articles?

Yes.

8ESjRe9L_400x400Emanuel Hall: Kansas State is returning more receiving yards than Mizzou, and they haven’t attempted a forward-pass since 1968 (Snyder’s first season as head coach,) so odds were one of the true frosh would play. Hall is not the candidate I would have voted for in February. His tape looked pedestrian. It screamed, “developmental, but there’s upside.” Then a funny thing happened. this funny thing called “practice.” (Want to feel old and miserable? Iverson’s famous “practice” rant happened thirteen years ago. That rant is an eighth grader.)

And Hall kept doing things right.

Not spectacular, but consistent. Not eye-popping, but solid. Not jaw-dropping, but head-nodding. Now low-whistle inducing, but gold-clap provoking.

I think what I’m saying is Emanuel Hall is Bud Sasser.

And without Bud Sasser, Mizzou sure could use a Bud Sasser.

b__g4YNFNate Howard:  Nate Howard is next in line. Mizzou saved the 6-4, 230 lb freshman from the B-10 in the waning moments before signing day. And here’s my favorite part of the story: you haven’t heard form him since. He just got to work. He’s listed behind Charles Harris and hopefully he’ll sit next to Harris on the bus too, because if some of Harris’ legendary work ethic rubs off on the freshman, there are at least five future draft picks playing on the DL at Mizzou. That’s insane.

Here’s a thinker: it’s about potential. And I know, I know, “spit in one hand and potential in the other and see which fills up first.” But the potential of the 2017 line (even after losing Brantley and Augusta) is Charles Harris, Terry Beckner Jr, Josh Moore, and Nate Howard.

The ceiling on that group is incredible.

Corey Fatony: Corey Fatony is a punter.

End of intrigue, yeah?

Youtube him. Count the Mississippis on that hang time. That’s intriguing.

Also, he’s missing the major muscle in his left pec. That’s intriguing too.


 

 

THE UNDERSTUDIES

CMI7RwNWgAAgblp.0.0Terez Hall: He plays with electricity, and may bring the exuberant type of swagger that the Mizzou defense hasn’t necessarily had since the Days of Spoonman. Hall isn’t the first LB to shed the shirt under Pinkel and is seems to be a type of traditional apprenticeship of the GP era. Expect to hear Hall’s name called on all of the special teams units. A few power schools took swings at Hall late, when their primary targets landed somewhere else, but Hall remained committed. Proving time and again that Gary Pinkel effing loved A Beautiful Mind. And Hall is being rewarded. This pairs him with Brandon Lee as freshmen LB’s listed on the depth chart. Throw in Sophomore Urban Legend (of pole vault fame) Joey Burkett, and that 2017 defense sure does seem to be shaping up with some major athleticism. Catch a theme here? This is an awfully young depth chart all around.

HiltonCam1-220x240Cam Hilton: I didn’t see this one coming. Hilton is an athlete. He’s a competitor. And he’s a kid that loves to play the game. That much comes across just watching his film. That said, at 6-0, 180, he could have used a year with Mad Doctor Ivey. Sometimes you can’t keep a kid off the field, and I think that’s exactly what happened here. The staff likes to keep a true freshman active in the DBackfield. And this year, Cam Hilton competed his way into playing time. It will be interesting to see just what the kid can do now that his focus is 100% on football, instead of switching focus to basketball in the winter.

 

 

 

 

Also by Adrian Fort: Why Anthony Hines?

5 Things I Learned Week 1 CFB

 

ADRIAN FORT is a writer, blogger, and essayist from Kansas City, Missouri. Follow him on twitter @adriananyway. His work has appeared in Existere, decomP magazinE, The Bluest Aye, Bareback Magazine, Gadfly Online, Chrome Baby, The Eunoia Review, Linguistic Erosion, and Smashed Cat Magazine. His Master’s Degree is from Lindenwood University.

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