It’s been a while since Mizzou football had plenty of dominant bodies on the line to call itself “D-Line Zou”.
When last year ended and senior Terry Beckner Jr. took his final snap in a Missouri Tigers uniform, some said it ended what was known as “D-Line Zou”.
Beckner was one of the top recruits from the 2015 class, and was on his way to getting drafted in the upcoming NFL Draft.
But what Missouri wants to do is keep producing quality linemen on the defensive front the same way the Tigers have been doing on the offensive end.
Will this year’s team be able to do that? If it does, it starts with a defensive tackle who can keep “D-Line Zou” in existence — junior Jordan Elliott.
The Texas transfer suited up for all 13 games for the Black and Gold last season, and ended up an All-SEC second team member by Pro Football Focus. Elliott can take it one step further this season by becoming a consistent force in the middle of Mizzou’s defense.
Last season, Elliott picked up three sacks to go with 24 tackles, eight of them for loss. He’ll be expected to bring that and more this year.
Next to him is a guy with plenty of experience in junior Chris Turner.
He saw immediate playing time his true freshman season and made an impact. Turner has played in 25 games over the past two years and notched thee sacks over that span. He’ll want to get more sacks as he moves into his final two seasons with the Tigers.
But Mizzou has a chance to bring back its dominance because of the potential it has, even outside of those two.
Opposite of Turner likely is sophomore Trajan Jeffcoat, who played last season as a true freshman.
Jeffcoat, from the other Columbia in the SEC, played in all 13 games last year. In the final game of the regular season, he picked up his first career sack.
If somebody were to jump ahead of Jeffcoat or Turner at the end spots, it would be last year’s starter in Tre Williams.
He is not listed on the two-deep depth chart just yet, as Williams missed spring training and workouts because of an arrest last year. He has been added back to the team and made it to fall camp, where he could get his spot back in time.
Another guy to keep an eye on along the defensive front is Akial Byers.
The versatility of Byers gives him a shot at plenty of snaps this season. Coach Barry Odom expects Byers to start in some capacity on the defensive line, and that probably will be next to Elliott as a defensive tackle. The junior currently is listed as a backup tackle to Kobie Whiteside and a third-string end behind Turner and Jatorian Hansford.
Speaking of Whiteside, the junior brings his big frame back to the middle of the Tigers defense.
Whiteside saw snaps in both his freshman and sophomore campaigns, wracking up sacks both years.
Hansford, meanwhile, played in eight games as a true freshman.
A new face that could make an immediate impact is Sci Martin Jr., a JUCO transfer out of East Mississippi CC. Martin originally was an LSU Tiger, but he makes the track over to Columbia after posting solid numbers last year.
Martin had 6.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss and 36 total tackles last season.
Defensive tackle Antar Thompson moves into his junior season after a year in CoMo. He’ll add depth as will fellow junior Chris Daniels. The pair both weigh in at more than 300 pounds and can plug the middle of a defense in need of depth.
Daniels is another JUCO transfer who could climb his way up the depth chart this summer. He comes from Copiah-Lincoln CC after spending his first year at Texas.
After appearing in 11 games in 2017, Markell Utsey redshirted last year and is back this season as a junior. He will compete with Thompson and Daniels for a role off the bench.
Senior Franklin Agbasimere is the last name on the two-deep depth chart. Agbasimere saw the field in seven games last season and currently is listed as the backup to Jeffcoat.
Freshmen on this year’s line include Isaiah McGuire, Z’Core Brooks, Cannon York, Keion Willis and Darius Robinson, who headlines the class of young linemen.
Senior Tyrell Jacobs and juniors Chris Williams and Myles Eaddy round out the rest of bodies on the line.