MIZZOU FOOTBALL 2016 POSITION PREVIEW: LINEBACKER
Missouri is talented and deep at the LB position.
The Tigers begin Fall Camp with a pair of senior linebackers in the starting line-up, specifically returning starters Michael Scherer and Donavin Newsom.
A two-year starter at middle linebacker, Scherer has for the second straight year been named to the Butkus Award Preseason Watch List. Over the past two seasons, Scherer has been very productive for the Tigers, with a two-year total of 207 tackles.
During Newsom’s year-plus as the starter at the SLB, Missouri has utilized a nickel back in passing situations, so Newsom would usually come off the field. If this spring was any indication, Missouri will keep all three LBs on the field this season, and Newsom has the pass-coverage ability to make that work.
To prepare for that alignment, Newsom and his primary back-up this spring, Terez Hall, often drilled with the safeties. That hybrid SLB/safety position requires a uniquely talented player, essentially a LB who can run and cover like a DB. Newsom and Hall fit the bill.
Joe Burkett started at the WLB in the Spring Game. He was backed up by Brandon Lee. I think the WLB position may prove to be one of the more interesting competitions we’ll see this fall, even more interesting if the coaches decide to add Terez Hall to that competition, along with Burkett and Lee. Late in the spring, it did appear that Hall was taking some practice reps at the WLB. That will be one of the most interesting developments to monitor during Fall Camp.
Behind Scherer, Cale Garrett quickly blew past Eric Beisel as the primary back-up. Garrett is a smart, instinctive player who quickly learned the position, and who appears to enter Fall Camp, not only as Scherer’s primary back-up, but also as the odds-on heir-apparent. Will Beisel make a run at regaining that spot as Scherer’s primary back-up?
Besides those 7, the Tigers have 3 other LBs whom I think could enter the mix for a back-up or starting job. Roderick Winters has been in the mix for a back-up job, although at this point, he certainly and clearly enters Fall Camp behind several others. I think the more serious challenge to move up could come from one or both of the very talented freshmen, in Franklin Agbasimere and Trey Baldwin.
While it’s not what I would call a glut of LBs, there is certainly good depth at the position for Missouri. And there’s young depth at that, with half a dozen freshmen and sophomores among those in competition for a spot on the two-deep, either this year or next.
Heading into Fall Camp, here’s kind of what the Depth Chart might look like at LB:
34 Joe Burkett 6’2” 222 (J)
4 Brandon Lee 6’2” 230 (So)
48 Roderick Winters 5’11” 225 (So)
29 Trey Baldwin 6’2” 240 (F)
30 Michael Scherer 6’3” 235 (S)
47 Cale Garrett 6’3” 225 (F)
38 Eric Beisel 6’3” 235 (J)
46 Jacob Trump 6’3” 225 (RSF)
32 Tanner Hull 6’0” 220 (J)
25 Donavin Newsom 6’2” 230 (S)
24 Terez Hall 6’2” 216 (So)
45 Franklin Agbasimere 6’2” 220 (RSF)
15 Grant Jones 6’3” 225 (So)
Overall, it's a good group, and they should be able to provide each other with some quality competition for jobs. The end result should be another very good corps of linebackers.