Eight Mizzou athletes to watch this year

Terry Beckner and Cierra Porter highlight Mizzou athletes poised for a breakout year.
Courtesy of MU Athletics

The Maneater looks at eight fall and winter athletes who could have breakout seasons in 2016.

Terry Beckner Jr., sophomore, football:

When Beckner came to Missouri, people had high expectations of him. ESPN ranked the East St. Louis native as the No. 2 recruit in the high school class of 2015, and he chose the Tigers over 20 other schools.

As a freshman, he lived up to the hype.

Beckner had 27 tackles in 2015, including three sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss. Sporting News and the Football Writers Association of America both named him a freshman All-American.

However, the sophomore does not come into 2016 without concerns. He is coming off season-ending ACL and MCL tears and was suspended in January for possession of marijuana.

At 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, Beckner has the build of an NFL defensive lineman. If he continues to develop and stays healthy, he could join Shane Ray and Michael Sam as Missouri legends.

Melanie Crow, redshirt junior, volleyball:

As a transfer from Ole Miss, Crow is a welcome addition to an already strong Missouri volleyball team. The outside hitter spent three years as a Rebel and was a starter her freshman and sophomore year.

The Wildwood, Missouri, native missed all but five games as a junior because of a concussion. She took a medical redshirt season and transferred to the Tigers.

Health will be key for Crow in 2016. If she is at 100 percent, she will make an immediate impact. She had success at Mississippi, setting the school record with 42 service aces her sophomore year.

Crow will join a group of experienced players — the team is losing only one senior from 2015 — and could help the Tigers to a strong 2016 season.

Bea Machado Santos, senior, tennis:

As a junior, Machado Santos had one of the best seasons in Missouri history. She earned second team all-Southeastern Conference honors, finishing the season with a 42–33 overall record.

The Portugal native handed Florida’s Brooke Austin, a two-time SEC Player of the Year, her only SEC singles loss of the season in March.

Machado Santos cracked into the Oracle/ITA Collegiate Tennis Singles rankings last season, reaching as high as No. 53. She received an at-large bid to the NCAA Singles Tournament.

With a monster junior campaign behind her, Machado Santos could move up in the national rankings and advance past the first round of the NCAA Singles Tournament as a senior.

Austin Myers, redshirt freshman, wrestling:

Myers, a heavyweight wrestler, will bolster an already strong Missouri team. The Kentucky native is a transfer from West Virginia.

The Tigers qualified a wrestler to the NCAA tournament in every weight class except heavyweight, so Myers could be an instant presence for the Tigers.

Myers took a redshirt season at West Virginia and will be eligible to compete immediately at Mizzou. He was a four-time Kentucky high school state champion.

Cierra Porter, sophomore, women’s basketball:

Porter was a key contributor to the Tigers as a freshman in the 2015–16 season. She averaged 8.6 points per game and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

The Columbia native could be even better as a sophomore. She battled injuries throughout her freshman year, though she only missed one game.

Porter was a highly-touted recruit out of high school, and will look to continue developing her talent in 2016. She and fellow Rock Bridge High School graduate Sophie Cunningham could become a dynamic duo this winter. The Tigers are coming off a NCAA Tournament win, and Porter could help lead the team to new heights.

Kevin Puryear, sophomore, men’s basketball:

Puryear was one of the few bright spots on Mizzou’s rebuilding basketball team last season. He averaged 11.5 points per game and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

The Blue Springs, Missouri, native is already one of the faces of the Tigers. Along with Terrence Phillips and K.J. Walton, Puryear is a part of a sophomore core that hopes to rejuvenate the Mizzou basketball program.

The 6-foot-7 forward will be a force to be reckoned with in 2016 and could emerge as an all-SEC-level player.

Mikel Schreuders, sophomore, men’s swimming:

Schreuders is one of two current Mizzou athletes at the 2016 Olympics. At only 17 years old, the sophomore represents Aruba in Rio.

At the Olympics, Schreuders competed in the 200-meter freestyle, finishing in 45th place.

Last school year, Schreuders helped the Tigers to an eighth-place finish at NCAA Championships. He earned honorable mention All-American honors as a member of two Tiger relays and qualified for the NCAA Championships individually in the 200-yard freestyle.

If Schreuders makes time drops in 2016, he could set a school record in the 200-yard freestyle and become an individual finalist at NCAAs.

Karissa Schweizer, junior, women’s cross-country:

Schweizer had a breakout track season in the spring, and she will look to carry that momentum to the cross-country course.

In June, Schweizer finished third at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in the 5,000-meter race. If she can have the same level of success in cross-country, she could lead a Mizzou team full of veteran talent.

The Iowa native was the SEC Freshman of the Year in the 2014 cross-country season and qualified for the NCAA Championships. Schweizer did not have the same level of success in her sophomore cross-country season and did not make it to the NCAA meet, but she was still the team’s top runner.

With a strong track season under her belt and experience at the national level, Schweizer will look to emerge as a cross-country star for the Tigers.

Edited by Nat Kaemmerer | nkaemmerer@themaneater.com

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