Missouri Football: What You Need to Know About Tigers' LB Zaviar Gooden
The Missouri Tigers have a talented, experienced linebacker group that is the biggest strength of their defense.
With Andrew Wilson, Will Ebner and Zaviar Gooden leading the way, this unit will make a smooth transition from the Big 12 to the SEC.
A lot of the success or failure of the unit will depend on how Gooden holds up on the weak side of the defense.
So, let’s take a look at five things you need to know about the Tigers’ weak-side linebacker.
5. He's Experienced
2012 will be Gooden’s third year as a starting linebacker for the Missouri Tigers.
He’s been consistently good every year he’s started for the Tigers, and has 195 tackles over three seasons with the team.
If he can just keep improving like he has every year in his career, the Tigers will have one of the best groups of linebackers in the SEC.
4. He's Got a Linebacker's Body
At 6’2”, 230 pounds, Gooden has that prototypical linebacker size that NFL scouts love.
He’s big, but he’s lean enough to drop into coverage when needed.
His versatility is a great asset for the Missouri defense, and the Tigers will need him to have a great season in order to be successful in the SEC.
3. He Doesn't Need Much Help
Of Gooden’s 80 tackles in 2011, 54 of them were solo tackles. In 2010, 50 of his 85 tackles were of the solo variety.
Having a linebacker who can stop a running back or receiver on his own is important, especially in the super-physical SEC.
Whether it’s stonewalling a running back coming through the line or chasing down a receiver in the flats, Gooden is comfortable making tackles all over the field.
2. He's No Slouch in Coverage
In high school, Gooden was a first-team all-district safety during his senior year, so he’s no stranger to covering receivers.
He’s faster than the other linebackers on the roster and was made to prowl the weak side of the defense.
That experience covering receivers in high school has been, and will continue to be, a major benefit for Gooden.
1. He's a Texas Recruit
Gooden was unwanted by the major Texas schools coming out of Pflugerville High School in Pflugerville, Texas.
Gary Pinkel and his coaching staff at Mizzou, however, were more than happy to scoop up the athletic high school safety and turn him into a linebacker.
Much like Sean Weatherspoon, also from the Lone Star State, Gooden has been an outstanding linebacker for the Tigers.
Missouri will need to keep recruiting the talent-rich state of Texas well if it is going to compete in the SEC.