The top 10 Missouri Tiger football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
1. DE Charles Harris, Jr.
The new great Mizzou pass rusher, the 6-3, 255-pound Harris came up with a breakthrough season with 56 tackles and seven sacks and a team-high 18.5 tackles for loss. While he was steady, he stood out against Arkansas State with 4.5 tackles for loss and came up with three big plays behind the line against Vanderbilt – he was always a disruptive force. Ultra-athletic, he was an elite high school basketball player who brings his quickness and first step to his spot on the end. Now that he knows what he’s doing in a full-time role, he’s expected to be even more dangerous.
2. LB Michael Scherer, Sr.
The man in the middle, the 6-3, 235-pound hitter finished second on the team in tackles with 93 tackles with nine tackles for loss after cranking up 114 stops as a sophomore. With the range to get in on just about everything, he came up with double-digit stops in four games including a season-high 12 stops with Georgia. An all-star in the classroom, he’s also quick and steady in the interior whether or not everything is funneled his way. He’s not going to be much of a pass rusher, but that’s not his job.
3. DE Walter Brady, Soph.
The rising star on the other side of Charles Harris, the 6-3, 255-pound sophomore is coming off a huge first season with 40 tackles with 12.5 tackles for loss and tying for a team-high with seven sacks. With the athleticism to work like a big outside linebacker, he can make plays in pass coverage and was surprisingly steady as a run defender when he wasn’t getting to the quarterback. His pass rushing presence slowed down over the second half of the season, but he was still productive in other ways.
4. S Anthony Sherrils, Jr.
The team’s third-leading tackler, the starting safety came up with one pick and was an okay kick returner, but what he did best was make plays in the open field. The 6-0, 200-pounder went from being a big-time special teamer and top athlete to a great hitter making 64 tackles with seven broken up passes and four tackles for loss. He has the talent to grow into an All-SEC performer over the next two seasons.
5. QB Drew Lock, Soph.
Okay, so he wasn’t very good. Lock struggled in his first season when thrown to the wolves, but he’s a special prospect with 6-4, 205-pound NFL size and outstanding athleticism. He’s not a dual-threat quarterback, but he can take off and run whenever he needs to going along with the arm that can stretch the field. He took his beating, but now he’s been through enough to be ready to start doing more – a lot more.
He only hit 49% of his passes for 1,332 yards and four touchdowns and eight picks, and ran for 28 yards and a score, but he showed flashes of his upside late in the season highlighted by a 244-yard day against BYU. With the new offensive coordinator and new staff, he gets to start over – he’ll look the part going forward.
6. LB Donavin Newsom, Sr.
The team’s fourth-leading tackler, he was like the rest of the playmakers on the defensive front showing off the skills to get behind the line from time to time with 2.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss along with 63 stops. At 6-2 and 230 pounds he’s got nice size to go along with his basketball-playing quickness – he can do even more as a pass rusher if turned loose on the outside.
7. CB Aarion Penton, Sr.
The team’s best cover-corner, the 5-10, 190-pound veteran was a great tackler in the open field with 41 of his 59 tackles solo stops – he was fifth on the team in tackles. He only came up with one pick, but he broke up eight passes a year after coming up with three interceptions and ten broken up plays. With next-level athleticism and great hands, he’ll make big stops when challenged.
8. RB Alex Ross, Sr.
Oklahoma’s second-leading rusher in 2014 with 595 yards and four scores – averaging 6.8 yards per carry – he was shoved aside last year with Joe Mixon returning and Samaje Perine the main man. Looking for a shot to find playing time as a graduate transfer, Missouri was a good fit. At 6-1 and 221 pounds, he’s a big back with good power and the speed to be a devastating kick returner – he averaged 31.2 yards per try with two touchdowns two years ago. He’ll get every shot this fall to be the workhorse.
9. WR Chris Black, Sr.
The Tigers need more receiving help, and they’re getting it by way of Alabama. Black never seemed able to find his place in the Crimson Tide rotation, catching 25 passes for 290 yards in his time, but injuries turned into an issue. Now the 6-0, 192-pounder could be the No. 1 target from the start and a great fit for the new up-tempo attack.
10. P Corey Fatony, Soph.
While he was only sixth in the SEC in punting, he had a lot of opportunities finishing second in the conference in total punts with 81 – averaging an SEC-high 6.8 per game – for 43.93 yards per boot. Steady, considering he was just a freshman, he put 23 inside the 20 and forced 28 fair catches. For a team with now offense and needed to live on D, he got the job done.