Last weekend, Missouri football was back in action for its first scrimmage of the 2017 season. Since last week, there are many names to remember.
Following last year’s graduating class, and then the NFL Draft, the Missouri football team was not completely stripped of play-makers, but it lost a few leaders and solid contributors.
As the 2017 season gradually gets underway, we seek a silver lining. With a decent number of returning athletes, who is going to be this year’s standout player?
On offense, most positions are locked down, aside from jockeying for position. For the wide receivers, senior J’Mon Moore is expected to be the No. 1 option.
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What remains to be seen, is who will fill out the No. 2 and No. 3 options. Redshirt sophomore Johnathon Johnson is a name to keep an eye on. The team’s No. 1 slot receiver in 2016 is playing with purpose, and showing even more consistency.
In 2016, Missouri’s backfield turned out to be one of the best in the SEC. The Tigers fielded a pair of running backs who combined for over 1,800 yards rushing.
Both Ish Witter and Damarea Crockett return in 2017 to wreak havoc on opposing run defenses. While both have established themselves as the team’s clear one-two punch, junior running back Nate Strong hopes to outperform two freshman and a walk-on for the No. 3 spot.
Witter, whose size stereotype draws comparisons to the Philadelphia Eagles’ Darren Sproles, is anything but, having delivered devastating hits to opposing defenders. This year, the Tigers could have a legitimate one, two, and knockout punch in running backs.
Missouri also adds another interesting prospect to its defensive line in Walter Palmore. Palmore, who hails from Georgia, only played one season of high school football. He later became the country’s No. 85 JuCo prospect from Eastern Arizona College.
In an interview with Anne Rogers of The Missourian, Palmore is ready for the SEC’s brand of intense football. Palmore brought himself a long way, in only his fourth season of playing football.
"This year is only my fourth year playing real, intense football, and it’s my first year playing in the (Southeastern Conference), which is a whole new meaning of intense. It just shows I’m a hard worker and I’ll do anything to play at the top level. I don’t think only playing one year in high school has put me at a disadvantage."
This fall, Terez Hall hopes to fill in nicely as the team’s new weakside linebacker. The junior linebacker has primarily played on special teams over the last two seasons.
In a recent interview with Dave Matter of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Hall is excited with the change-up to weakside from playing strong side linebacker. “It ain’t too much different… It’s just a little less running.”
If the transition is successful, Hall will assume responsibility of one of the defense’s most productive positions. At this point, Hall has head coach Barry Odom’s vote of confidence.
"He’s done well… He’s got the football IQ to do all three, so that’s really positive for our defense."
Finally, there’s a sobering tradition that continues in Columbia; one that is a reminder that life is fragile, and can be taken away in an instant. In 2005, the Tigers were devastated by the death of redshirt freshman linebacker Aaron O’Neal.
This year, freshman Jamal Brooks has been entrusted with the honor of representing the fallen Mizzou Tiger, and has taken the time to learn more about the person and athlete who he has been bestowed the honor of representing.