The Maneater

An in-depth look at the Missouri football depth chart, position-by-position

Changes in the depth chart paved opportunities for young, new names.

Sophomore tight end Albert Okwuegbunam catches a pass during a drill at Missouri's fall camp practice at the Mizzou Athletics Training Center on August 16, 2018.

Offense:

Quarterback

Starter: Drew Lock Backups: Micah Wilson, Taylor Powell

Behind Lock, the Tigers will be opting for two completely different players from the two who were initially mentioned at the beginning of fall camp. Wilson and Powell are the frontrunners to succeed Lock instead of Jack Lowary and Lindsey Scott Jr.

Wilson, a redshirt sophomore, was the backup last season and was praised throughout camp for his experience as he emerged among the backups.

“Micah is more of a dynamic quarterback,” offensive lineman Yasir Durant said during camp. “He can sprint for a 67-yard touchdown if he wants to. He’s more of a read option type of guy.”

Powell, a former Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year in high school, has yet to see the field for the Tigers.

Running back

Starters: Damarea Crockett, Larry Rountree III (co-starters) Backups: Tyler Badie, Dawson Downing

Damarea Crockett will split carries with sophomore Larry Rountree III. During Crockett’s injury, Rountree broke out at the end of last season to throw himself into the backfield mix. Either a frontrunner will emerge and be the primary back throughout the season, or they will continue to share the load. Their teammates seem to enjoy the one-two punch.

“Larry and Crockett are gonna be great for us,” Lock said. “We’re able to catch the ball out of the backfield and run right up the gut. Get us a few yards on 3rd and 1, 3rd and 2 if we need them, and be able to break some big ones.”

Freshman Tyler Badie and redshirt sophomore Dawson Downing will take backup snaps. Badie is listed as the third back on the depth chart and can play a change-of-pace role.

Wide Receiver

Starters: Emanuel Hall, Johnathon Johnson, Nate Brown Backups: Richaud Floyd, Alex Ofodile, Dominic Gicinto

Senior Emanuel Hall was Missouri’s breakout offensive player at the end of last season and will lead the receiving corps with redshirt junior Johnathon Johnson to give Lock a variety of talented options through the air.

Johnson should get more opportunities out of the slot position in Derek Dooley’s pro-style offense with quicker throws. He’ll round out the starting group with redshirt senior Nate Brown, who is coming off two injury riddled seasons.

Dominic Gicinto has been one of the breakout stars of the offseason, moving into a spot on the depth chart as a true freshman. He is listed as the backup slot receiver behind Johnson after Richaud Floyd went down with a lower leg injury during camp. Floyd will be out for four to six weeks.

Oregon graduate transfer and redshirt junior Alex Ofodile is coming back to Columbia and will play under his father, wide receivers coach A.J Ofodile. Ofodile is listed as a backup on the depth chart and will compete for some snaps as well.

Tight Ends

Starter(s): Albert Okwuegbunam & Kendall Blanton Backups: Brendan Scales & Logan Christopherson

Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley will use multiple tight end sets more frequently than his predecessor Josh Heupel. That means fans will likely see Okwuegbunam and Blanton on the field often. Okwuegbunam is one of the go-to names on the entire offensive side.

He returns to Missouri after a true freshman season in which he was the national leader in touchdown receptions among tight ends.

Blanton, on the other hand, is a fifth-year senior with just two starts. He finished 2017 with six catches for 138 yards, but it’s likely he’ll be able to surpass those numbers this season.

As for Scales and Christopherson, it’s likely they’ll both see the field, especially considering high praise for Scales during fall camp.

“When he knows what to do he’s one of the most explosive athletes we have,” tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley said.

Offensive Line

Starting Tackles: Yasir Durant & Paul Adams Backups: Hyrin White & Samson Bailey

Starting Guards: Kevin Pendleton & Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms Backups: Case Cook & Larry Borom

Starting Center: Trystan Colon-Castillo Backup(s): Jonah Dubinski

The Tigers returned all five of their starting offensive linemen, who have 85 starts between them, making it one of the strongest and most experienced position areas on the Missouri roster. Derek Dooley, however, made clear this fall that those combined starts aren’t significant and that their jobs weren’t necessarily safe.

“Until we start having All-Americans, all-conference players, it doesn’t matter that you started,” Dooley said. “You might have started by default, because we didn’t get anybody better than you. It doesn’t mean you’re good.”

While the unit didn’t have any preseason All-Conference selections, they will only lose Adams and Pendleton at the end of this season, so count on more of the same protecting the quarterback for a long time to come.

Defense:

Defensive Line

Starting Defensive Ends: Tre Williams & Chris Turner Backups: Nate Anderson & Akial Byers

Starting Defensive Tackles: Terry Beckner Jr. & Walter Palmore Backups: Rashad Brandon & Jordan Elliott

There are several names to watch on the defensive line, either as dark horse performers or obvious standouts.

Between Anderson, Palmore and Elliott, the group has three transfers. Tre Williams — a Columbia native — is someone to keep an eye on as well. He made half of his 20 tackles last season in the final four games of the year. He’ll be starting as a redshirt sophomore.

And, of course, Beckner will look to be one of the Tigers’ top performers. He finished 2017 with 11 tackles for a loss and 7 sacks.

Linebackers

Starters: Cale Garrett, Terez Hall, Brandon Lee Backups: Aubrey Miller Jr., Jamal Brooks, Ronnell Perkins

Team captains Cale Garrett and Terez Hall are the two leaders on a strong linebacker corps this season. Both were starters last season and will see the field for nearly all of Missouri’s snaps on defense.

Redshirt senior Brandon Lee will be the third starter and will play snaps as an outside linebacker in Missouri’s 4-3 defense, but will also rotate with former safety Ronnell Perkins for passing sets.

“I think [Lee] has a chance to play football past this year; he’s a talented kid,” Odom said. “He’s intelligent, driven and focused.”

Secondary

Starting Cornerbacks: Adam Sparks & DeMarkus Acy Backups: Terry Petry & Christian Holmes

Starting Safeties: Cam Hilton & Khalil Oliver Backups: Jordan Ulmer, Tyree Gillespie & Joshuah Bledsoe

The secondary is one of the more unproven position groups on the roster. The starters on the new depth chart are Hilton and Oliver. Oliver joined the team during the summer as a grad transfer from Oregon and has moved up the roster to become a needed addition at free safety. Hilton has subsequently transitioned from free to strong safety.

Missouri will be looking for playmakers to pair with cornerbacks Adam Sparks and DeMarkus Acy, who each return after a strong finish to last season that saw points allowed cut in half from the first six games. Christian Holmes will also be vying for snaps after returning from a shoulder injury that forced him to miss last season.

Special Teams:

Place Kicker/Kickoff: Tucker McCann Punter: Corey Fatony Long Snapper: James Workman Kick Return: Tyler Badie and Larry Rountree III Punt Return: Johnathon Johnson

Missouri will have powerful duo of senior punter Corey Fatony and junior kicker Tucker McCann lead the special teams unit this season.

Fatony helped Missouri flip the field on opponents with a net punting average of 41 yards, which was 13th in the country. Fatony will be the holder for McCann, who went into last year fighting to keep his starting kicking job after a rough freshman year. But duress quickly turned into breakout sophomore campaign as he made his final 13 kicks, including the game-winner against Arkansas.

The kicking duo and long snapper James Workman will give Missouri a strong special teams cast, among the best in the SEC.

In the return game, Badie and sophomore Larry Rountree III will share kickoff duties, a team spokesman said on Tuesday. Punt returning will go to receiver Johnathon Johnson after preseason second-team All-American Floyd’s leg injury.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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