Mizzou football: Garrett leads a young group with a new identity

LEXINGTON, KY - OCTOBER 07: Cale Garrett
LEXINGTON, KY - OCTOBER 07: Cale Garrett /

Mizzou football is thin at linebacker, but brings back a powerful punch in the middle.

The Missouri Tigers nearly missed out on linebacker Cale Garrett.

Missouri didn’t offer a scholarship to Garrett until the final week of signing season, and Garrett thought about becoming a Navy SEAL instead.

But he signed with the Tigers, and four years later, Garrett is one of the top tacklers ever to put on a Tigers uniform.

The All-SEC performer is back for his final season in Columbia.

Garrett, who was named to three preseason watchlists this summer — Butkus,  Bednarik and Bronco awards — has 264 tackles in three years with the Tigers.

He’ll lead this year’s defense once again, a unit that will need to match its counterpart if the Tigers want to jump into the conversation of taking an SEC East crown away from Georgia.

Garrett will lead the team on the field, yes. But he’ll need to be a leader off the field as well. The group is young and the depth of the unit probably won’t see the field too often, given the Tigers will run a 4-2-5 defense, meaning only two linebackers.

The guy next to Garrett still is up in the air, but it likely is down to two players in Aubrey Miller and Nick Bolton.

Mizzou’s camp depth chart lists Bolton ahead of Miller. Bolton, a 6-foot, 235-pound sophomore out of Frisco, Texas, registered 22 tackles last year, mostly in a special teams role.

Miller, who is 6’2, 225 pounds, hails from Memphis. He led all Tigers with 10 tackles in the Black and Gold game last spring.

He’s also a witness to Jordan Elliott’s new diet:

Behind Garrett is junior Jamal Brooks and sophomore Cameron Wilkins. Brooks played in 12 games last season while Wilkins suited up for 11.

Redshirt freshman Chad Bailey also made the two-deep, sitting as the third linebacker behind Miller.

Senior Jacob Trump medically retired just before camp. Trump was a special teams player who saw action in every game in 2018. Bailey or Brooks could take the spot Trump leaves behind.

Bailey reserved his redshirt after playing in three games as a freshman.

Other freshmen this year include Gerald Nathan Jr., who also kept a year of eligibility after playing in two games last season, and prospects Jamie Pettway and Devin Nicholson.

Senior Joe Hoy and sophomores Joe Britton and Chance May also return for Mizzou.

One of the safeties listed, such as senior Ronnell Perkins, could slide down into a linebacker spot as well this year. It wouldn’t be a surprise as Mizzou has done this in the past, and Perkins split time in that hybrid role.

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But the position starts and ends with Garrett. The senior from Kearney will be looked on for leadership that comes with another year of improving his tackle totals and being a disruptive force in the backfield.