Award snub serves as motivation for Brothers

Michael Scherer: “He’s got more ahead of him than being worried about being on some list.”
Missouri Tigers linebacker Kentrell Brothers (10) runs after Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott Nov. 6, 2015, during a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Faurot Field.

It’s simple: Kentrell Brothers was on a mission.

After being utterly snubbed, left off of the list of semifinalists for the Butkus Award, annually given to the best linebacker in college football, earlier this week, the Missouri Tiger showed why the selection committee was wrong.

With a 14-tackle game against Mississippi State Thursday night — not to mention a blocked punt and forced fumble — Brothers padded his stats. He now leads the nation in tackles with 117.

“I think every linebacker who thinks he’s playing well belongs on that (Butkus) list,” Brothers said. “Sometimes, it just happens like that. They have some good players on there, and their teams are in the position to win some big games. I was kind of upset at first, but I’m kind of over it now.”

Brothers is by no means a stranger to playing with a chip on his shoulder. Last season, after leading all of the Southeastern Conference with 122 tackles, Brothers was left off of the AP All-SEC First Team.

Then, during the preseason, he wasn’t elected as a captain by his teammates.

This year, he came out with an even fiercer fire burning within him.

“It’s more motivation for me to show them that I can be a great player, and I am a great player,” Brothers said. “That’s what I plan to do night in and night out.

“I’ve been doubted my whole life, and I’ve overcome a lot of things to get to where I am right now. That’s just another one of them.”

On a Mizzou squad that is struggling through and through, having lost its last four games, including Thursday’s 31-13 loss to the Bulldogs, Brothers has managed to stay consistent.

“I don’t like him very much,” junior linebacker Michael Scherer said jokingly.

Tally another chip, even if it’s just the team jokester messing with his buddy.

Then, Brothers walked out of the media room.

“He’s gone now — we can talk good about him,” Scherer bantered. “You can say (being left off the Butkus Award list) lit a fire in him, but he did what he’s done every game this year. What he did this year is no different than what he’s done for the last seven, eight games. He’s got more ahead of him than being worried about being on some list.”

The next-most tackles in that Butkus semifinalist group is 91. Then, 74, 71, 66 and 60. The remaining six linebackers on the list each have less than half as many as Brothers.

So what exactly would Brothers tell the selection committee given the opportunity?

“Thanks,” he said proudly. “Thank you. It’s motivation.”

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