Team of the Decade: Who made The Maneater’s Tiger football team of the decade

Missouri won SEC East division titles in 2013 and 2014.
Senior lineman Nick Monaghan Celebrates after Missouri's victory over Oklahoma State at the AT&T Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. Maneater Photo Archive

This past decade was filled with many highs and lows for Missouri football. The Tigers joined the Southeastern Conference in 2011 and won their division in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. In 2013, Missouri was one win against Auburn away from a National Championship appearance. But after the retirement of Gary Pinkel, the school’s all-time wins leader in, the Tigers struggled to get back to the top. Barry Odom led them to two winning seasons in four years but was fired in November. As the 2010s come to a close, The Maneater broke down the top Missouri football players of the decade at each position.


Offense

Quarterback: Drew Lock

From a statistical standpoint, Lock is one of the greatest quarterbacks in Missouri football history. Lock led the Tiger offense for four seasons after starting eight games as a true freshman. As a junior, he had his most impressive year, breaking the SEC and MU single-season records with 44 passing touchdowns. That performance put him on the first-team All-SEC roster. He led Missouri to an 8-5 record in his senior year and finished his college career with 12,193 total yards, second all-time in SEC history. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft and has thrived in his first few starts. While Lock did not win a bowl game or division title at MU, his numbers are enough to start him on the all-decade team.

Honorable Mention: James Franklin

62.1 completion percentage, 6962 passing yards, 72 total touchdowns and helped lead Missouri to its first SEC East title.

Running back: Henry Josey

Josey makes the team for multiple reasons. In 2013, he had one of the most iconic runs in Missouri history. His 57-yard burst against Texas A&M clinched the SEC East title for Missouri. But before that, he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Texas in 2011 that forced him to miss all of 2012 as well. When Josey returned in 2013, he rushed for 1,166 yards and 16 touchdowns. While many thought Missouri would struggle in the preseason, Missouri won the Cotton Bowl and Josey led Missouri with three touchdowns. He ranks fifth all-time in rushing yards in team history.

Running back: Larry Rountree III

Rountree has produced every year as a Tiger. His freshman year, he recorded 703 rushing yards and six touchdowns. As a sophomore, he shared carries with Tyler Badie and Damarea Crockett and still eclipsed the 1,000 yard rushing mark and notched 11 touchdowns. His 1,919 rushing yards through two seasons is the most by a Missouri running back in that span. During his junior year, he took a step back and ran for less than five yards per carry for the first time in his collegiate career. If he returns for his senior season, he should move into second place all-time for rushing yards in a Tiger uniform.

Honorable Mention: Ish Witter

2,418 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns from 2014 to 2017.

Honorable Mention: Damarea Crockett

2,252 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns from 2016 to 2018.

Wide Receiver: J’Mon Moore

Wide receiver may have been the deepest position for Missouri in the last decade. However, Moore’s electric playmaking ability puts him on this list. Moore ranks fourth all-time in receiving yards with 2,477 and did most of his damage during his junior and senior seasons. As a junior, he tied the school record with four touchdowns in a 79-0 win over Delaware State. During his senior year, he recorded his second consecutive season with over 1,000 receiving yards and 60 receptions. The Green Bay Packers selected him in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Wide Receiver: Dorial Green-Beckham

Green-Beckham makes this list because of his performance in 2013, when he helped lead the Tigers to the SEC Championship game and a Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma State. Coming out of high school, the expectations for Green-Beckham were enormous. Ranked No. 1 in the country for any position, he played significant snaps for the Tigers as a freshman. During his sophomore season, he tallied 59 receptions and 12 touchdowns. He was later dismissed from the team after investigations for incidents off the football field. Green-Beckham was drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft by Tennessee Titans.

Honorable Mention: Emanuel Hall

2,016 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns in 45 games.

Honorable Mention: T.J. Moe

2101 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns from 2009-2012.

Tight End: Albert Okwuegbunam

Okwuegbunam might have had a chance to break the all-time receiving touchdown record if he stayed for his redshirt senior season. However, he decided to forego his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft on Dec. 2. Okwuegbunam shined in his three years at Missouri. He was a touchdown machine in 2017, recording 11 touchdowns on 29 receptions. In 2018, he was a finalist for the John Mackey Award after grabbing six touchdowns and 466 yards. In his final year at Missouri, his production dropped, but he still caught six touchdowns in nine games. Okwuegbunam and Michael Egnew both deserve to start but Okwuegbunam makes the team because of his success in the red zone.

Honorable Mention: Michael Egnew

First-team All-American in 2010 and 1,285 receiving yards combined from 2010-2011.

Right tackle: Mitch Morse

Morse is the first of four offensive linemen from the 2013 SEC East champion team to make this list. He started all 14 games at right tackle during the historic turnaround season. In 2015, the Kansas City Chiefs selected him with the 49th pick in the NFL Draft, and he started 49 games. He is the second highest paid center in the league, earning $44.5 million over four years with the Bills.

Center: Evan Boehm

Coming out of high school, Boehm was a top recruit. At Missouri, he started 52 consecutive games, a school record. The Arizona Cardinals selected Boehm in the fourth round of the NFL draft in 2016. He has bounced around the NFL, playing for three teams in four seasons. He currently plays for the Miami Dolphins and has started eight games this year.

Left guard: Connor McGovern

McGovern was a contributing member to both the 2013 and 2014 SEC East championship teams. He started all 28 games during those years after seeing limited action during his freshman season. He was selected in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft and has started 15 games for the Broncos in 2019.

Right guard: Justin Britt

After mainly serving as a backup during his freshman campaign, Britt became the starter his sophomore year after an injury to Elvis FIsher. In that season, the Tigers allowed their fewest amount of sacks since 2008 and ranked No. 12 nationally in total offense. Britt was also a key member of the 2013 SEC East championship team. After that season, he was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft. He is currently in his sixth NFL season with the Seattle Seahawks and started at least 15 games in each of his previous five years.

Left tackle: Yasir Durant

Ranked as the No. 3 junior college guard prospect, Durant started nine games for the Tigers in 2017 and they went 6-3 in those games. That season, the offensive line allowed the fewest sacks per game in the SEC (1.0) and ranked first in tackles for loss nationally. In 2018, Durant was on an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks per game in the SEC. He also earned SEC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week award after Missouri’s 38-27 win over Mississippi this past season.


Defense

Defensive End: Michael Sam

Sam might be the most iconic Missouri football player of the 2010s. He had to wait until his sophomore year to really make an impact every game, but that year he had one of the biggest plays of Missouri’s season. He intercepted a pass at the goal line against Texas Tech with just seconds left on the clock to preserve the win for Missouri and give it bowl eligibility. In his senior year, Sam had one of the best seasons in Missouri football history with 10 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. His fumble recovery for a touchdown on the road against No. 7 Georgia and strip sack to seal the Cotton Bowl were among his many highlights in the 2013 season. He tied for the SEC Defensive Player of the Year with C.J. Mosely and earned a spot on the 2013 All-American team. Sam’s legacy will also be linked to his openness about coming out as gay which, after being drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL draft, made him the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL.

Honorable Mention: Charles Harris

34.5 tackles for loss, 18 sacks and five forced fumbles from 2014 to 2016

Honorable Mention: Kony Ealy

28 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, one pick-six and six forced fumbles from 2011 to 2013

Nose Tackle: Sheldon Richardson

Richardson debuted for Missouri in 2011 after spending two seasons at junior college at College of the Sequoias and redshirting for the 2010 season. Richardson didn’t disappoint as he delivered on the massive expectations of being the fourth best high school prospect. He finished his first season at Missouri with 37 tackles including eight for loss and two sacks. The next season, he showed massive improvement in nearly every statistical category with 75 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and three forced fumbles. Richardson elected to enter the 2013 NFL Draft and was considered to be a top prospect. He was selected No. 13 overall by the New York Jets and is currently on the Cleveland Browns in his seventh NFL season.

Defensive Tackle: Harold Brantley

Prior to a car crash which sidelined him for the entire 2015 season, Brantley had established himself as a force on the interior of the defensive line for Missouri. He recorded 30 tackles and deflected three passes in his redshirt freshman season. The next year, Brantley showed glimpses of becoming a star for the Tigers with 54 tackles, seven tackles for loss and five sacks, Brantley’s career at Missouri was cut short by the car crash his redshirt junior year which resulted in injuries that at the time were deemed to be serious. This hindered Brantley’s chance of making the NFL. He managed to recover and after transferring, has bounced around different professional football leagues.

Honorable Mention: Terry Beckner Jr.

32 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks from 2015-2018.

Inside Linebacker: Kentrell Brothers

Brothers was one of Missouri’s defensive leaders during its two SEC East title-winning seasons in 2013 and 2014. In his redshirt sophomore season, he was the only linebacker on the roster to start every game and recorded 70 tackles to go along with a sack and three interceptions. Brothers really made the leap to becoming a star in the 2014 season when he led the team with 122 tackles and had three forced fumbles. In his fourth and final season as a Tiger, Brothers recorded 152 tackles which led the nation and was the fourth highest single season total in Missouri history. That season Brothers finished as an All-SEC first-team honoree. He went on to be drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the fifth round of the 2016 draft and has been a consistent contributor on special teams.

Inside Linebacker: Cale Garrett

After Missouri defeated Troy in 2019, coach Barry Odom called Cale Garrett “the heart and soul” of the team. Garrett became a full-time starter in his sophomore season and came up with 99 tackles, including 10 for loss, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. His junior season, Garrett surpassed the triple digit mark for tackles with 106 en route to earning second-team All-SEC honors. In his senior campaign, Garrett recorded 43 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, a fumble recovery and three interceptions before his season ended due to a pectoral tendon injury. He also had three defensive touchdowns in five games. Garrett’s three touchdowns ties the most in a single season at Missouri.

Honorable Mention: Zaviar Gooden

256 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss and five interceptions, one returned for a touchdown from 2009 to 2012

Outside linebacker: Shane Ray

Ray was stuck behind multiple other talented pass rushers during his first couple of years at Missouri, resulting in a stat line that wasn’t particularly impressive. In his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons, he amassed 55 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. The highlight for Ray in his first two seasons was a fumble recovery which he returned for a touchdown in the Cotton Bowl that helped clinch the victory over Oklahoma State. In his redshirt junior season, Ray assumed a role as a starter and put together one of the best seasons for a Missouri pass rusher. His 14.5 sacks in the 2014 season are the most ever for a Tiger and he also had 22.5 tackles for loss on the season. He also had three forced fumbles to bring his career total to five. Ray was drafted No. 23 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos before he was signed and then cut by the Baltimore Ravens in 2019.

Outside Linebacker: Markus Golden

Golden transferred to Missouri for the 2012 season after attending junior college at Hutchinson. In his first season, Golden was limited to special teams duties, but he still managed to make an impact with a forced fumble on a kickoff against Kentucky. In his second season, Golden managed to see action as a defensive end and outside linebacker playing 40% of the defensive snaps on the season. He was highly productive with 13 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and one of the more memorable plays of the decade as he hit Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens and snagged the ball out of the air for a pick-six. In his third and final season at Missouri, Golden recorded career-highs in nearly every statistical category with 78 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries including one that he returned for a touchdown. Golden was a second round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2015 NFL Draft. He signed with the New York Giants this offseason where he has been a highly productive player with 65 tackles and 10 sacks.

Honorable Mention: Aldon Smith

23 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks and one interception from 2009 to 2010.

Cornerback: E.J. Gaines

Gaines played immediately in 2010 as a freshman for Missouri, and while he initially served mostly as a special teams contributor, he earned some defensive snaps by the end of the season. In his sophomore season, Gaines was one of the starters at cornerback and went on to record 69 tackles, two interceptions and 18 passes defended, which set an MU record and ranked No. 4 in the NCAA that season. Gaines’ performance in his sophomore season earned him first-team All-Big 12 honors. Gaines had a similarly successful junior season with 74 tackles and a fumble recovery. Gaines put the finishing touches on his Missouri career with career-highs in tackles (75) and interceptions (5). Gaines was drafted in the sixth round by the St. Louis Rams in 2014 but has since bounced around a bit playing on two other teams. Gaines was cut before this season by the Buffalo Bills after suffering an injury.

Cornerback: DeMarkus Acy

Acy started his freshman season in 2016 primarily as a special teams player, but he managed to work his way into a more prominent role for the Tigers defensively and eventually earned his first start against LSU. As a sophomore, he became a full time starter and recorded 48 tackles and a forced fumble. As a junior, Acy earned second-team All-SEC honors for his 30 tackles and three interceptions. Two of those interceptions came in a win against Tennessee. In 2019, Acy had 15 tackles and a fumble recovery. He is thought to be a possible mid-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Honorable Mention: Aarion Penton

153 tackles and 10 interceptions.

Safety: Braylon Webb

Webb was an All-Big 12 honorable mention in his redshirt freshman season as he managed to record 33 tackles and a forced fumble despite only starting four games. In the 2012 season, Webb started all 12 games and recorded 64 tackles from the free safety position. In his junior year, Webb started to establish himself as a consistent playmaker for Missouri with 89 tackles, and three interceptions. His senior year, Webb showed that his performance from the previous season wasn’t a fluke as he snagged four interceptions, came up with 70 stops and recovered one fumble.

Safety: Anthony Sherrils

After spending the majority of his redshirt freshman season as a special teams player, Sherrils broke into the starting lineup in his second season as the strong safety. In his first season as a starter Sherrils managed to pick up 64 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble. In 2016, Sherrils took a step back with only 53 tackles and an interception, but he also contributed some big plays on special teams. He picked up 14 yards on a fake punt against Arkansas, helping the Tigers erase a 24-7 halftime deficit and win 28-24. He also hauled in an 11-yard reception against Delaware State on another fake punt. In his final season with Missouri, Sherrils bounced back from his sub-par junior season with 64 tackles, one forced fumble and two recovered and two interceptions.

Honorable Mention: Ian Simon

153 tackles, four interceptions.


Special Teams

Return Man: Marcus Murphy

Throughout his four year career at Missouri, Murphy racked up three touchdowns and 2,036 yards on 87 kick returns for an average of 23.4 yards per kick return. On punts, Murphy averaged 10.7 yards per return on 75 returns while also finding the endzone four times on punt returns. Murphy was named to the first-team All-SEC in 2012 and 2014 as the return man and was also named the 2014 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year. In 2012, Murphy recorded two punt return touchdowns in the same game becoming the first Missouri player to do so. In 2014, he became the first Missouri player to record a rushing touchdown, punt return touchdown and kick return touchdown in the same game. He spent two seasons with both the New Orleans Saints and Buffalo Bills.

Punter: Corey Fatony

Fatony made the All-SEC freshman team in 2015 and ranked first nationally among all freshmen with an average of 42.9 net yards per punt. He also set the school record in punts with 81 that season. In his junior season, Fatony was a semifinalist Ray Guy Award. He holds the school record for career punting yards and punts.

Kicker: Andrew Baggett

This position is a toss-up with the lack of kickers during the 2010s and similar statistics between the two main kickers. Baggett makes the all-decade team because of his slight edge in accuracy. He holds the team record for career field goals with 66 and made 73.33% of field goals in his career. He was a reliable kicker in 2012 and made the All-SEC Freshman team. His missed field goal in double overtime against South Carolina almost shattered Missouri’s dream of an SEC East title in 2013, but otherwise he was a reliable kicker for the Tigers.

Honorable Mention: Tucker McCann

Second in school history with 358 points, 61 field goals made and 175 extra points.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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