As school breaks for summer on the campus of University of Missouri, the excitement of the nationally ranked baseball team is buzzing around campus.
However, when thoughts wander to the football team, that buzz transforms into a roar when thoughts turn to the football team, and games at Faurot Field when everybody returns for the fall.
This Mizzou Tiger team has a chance to eclipse last year’s team as the most successful in school history.
With a weaker schedule and more experience, Coach Gary Pinkel and a loaded recruiting class has led to high expectations and even higher hopes.
Here are five possible pre-season All-American players that you are sure to hear about as it gets closer to the fall.
No. 5---Sean Weatherspoon
“Spoon” was one of the best players on D last year at linebacker and has a chance to be one of the best LBs in Mizzou history.
His 130 tackles were one of the highest in the nation and he was also named First Team All-Big 12, but with a much thinner linebacking corps this year, he’ll have to be just as good for the team to have the same success.
Weatherspoon was a beast last year and should be just as tenacious in the upcoming fall. If he can step up and be a leader in place of graduated seniors such as Pig Brown and Lorenzo Williams, he’ll be an All-American.
No. 4---Chase Coffman
As good as Martin Rucker was in his career in Columbia, Chase Coffman might be even better. He’s started every season since his freshman year and his senior campaign should be his best, since he’ll finally be at the top of the depth chart.
Coffman is almost a wide receiver that plays in the slot, and his speed, size and leaping ability make him a threat anywhere on the field.
New recruits Andrew Jones and Wes Kemp could take some heat off him, as could incumbent Jon Gissinger, but regardless, Coffman could add as many as ten TDs to his record total of 20.
Coffman is thought to be a better NFL prospect than T-Ruck, so if he stays healthy and Mizzou stays in the limelight nationally he could earn himself a spot in the first round.
No. 3---William Moore
Moore came out of nowhere last season, stepping up after Pig Brown’s injury to deliver bone-crunching hits and timely interceptions in big games. He might have been the best safety in the class had he declared after his junior season, so big expectations follow him into his senior year.
With eight INTs, Moore showed he’s more than just a heavy-hitter, but he still lacks discipline at times, landing late hits or committing other stupid penalties. With more pressure on him this year, it will be interesting to see how he responds.
Moore has the perfect size and skills to be a first-round pick in nest years NFL draft. If he can keep a cool head in big games and get help from whoever plays in the other safety slot, whether it’s Justin Garrett, Hardy Ricks, etc., Moore might be the best safety in the country.
No. 2---Jeremy Maclin
J-Mac’s first season on the field last year was unreal. He set a freshman record for all-purpose yards and notched 16 touchdowns to boot. This season he’ll join teammate Chase Daniel as a Heisman contender.
I can’t even being to predict what kind of stats Maclin will put up this season because he is a threat to take it to the house literally every time he touches the ball. If he plays all year, his numbers will be plain nasty.
Health will be a huge concern, but that’s the thing about Maclin; it seems like he kinda likes to get hit. He doesn’t shy away from contact, so with a bigger target on his back, Mizzou fans can only hope he doesn’t get hurt.
Assuming Maclin stays healthy, I can say this. He will be an All-American (again), spend more time in the endzone than Truman the Tiger (again), and this time, probably be in New York for the Heisman presentation. Tiger fans can only pray he won’t declare for the draft.
No. 1---Chase Daniel
Daniel has made everyone forget about Brad Smith, and with a big senior year he’ll cement himself as the best QB in Mizzou history.
Daniel could throw for 40 TDs and run for another five more this season if he stays healthy. And health isn’t really a concern. Daniel doesn’t shy away from tackles and has openly stated he doesn’t mind being hit.
He should be dealing with a similar arsenal compared to last year, and is also dealing with an easier schedule. Behind a Tim Tebow repeat, Chase Daniel is probably the favorite to hoist this year’s Heisman.
Question No. 3---Will depth at LB be an issue?
Probably not. Although Connell Davis and Marquis Booker are no longer on the team, Steve Redmond and Andrew Gachkar were injured in the spring, and starter Van Alexander was lost until the fall with a right knee injury, don’t fret Tiger fans.
Davis probably would have seen the field this year, but Booker wouldn’t have even if he was on the team. And Alexander, Redmond and Gachkar should be back by the time Mizzou travels to St. Louis to play the Illini,
However, Luke Lambert played big minutes as a true freshman down the stretch last season and is ready to start if Alexander is not ready. Lambert, along with Weatherspoon and senior Brock Christopher are a very good starting three, and depth should be just fine for this season.
Question No. 2---Can Tim Barnes play center in replace of Adam Spieker?
The answer here is a resounding yes. Barnes has better size than Spieker and looked great in the spring. Barnes was highly touted out of high school and has the skills and coordination to make an impact this fall as opposed to simply filling a gap.
I’m not saying he’ll step in and be better than Spieker, who signed with the Oakland Raiders after the draft, but over time he could prove to be even better. One thing’s for sure, he shouldn’t slow the offense down this fall.
Question No. 1---Can everybody stay healthy!?!?!
God I hope so. Aside from Alexander the team didn’t have anything too terrible happen in spring ball, so that’s a relief. Depth is also decent throughout almost every position, so the team should be able to red-shirt young prospects.
The team’s big stars on offense, Maclin, Coffman, Daniel, are all tough players who don’t fear defenders. But football is a taxing game, and anything can happen.
The only player that this team absolutely CANNOT lose is Chase Daniel. They have plenty of weapons on offense, but the backup QB, Chase Patton, never grew into the star he was hyped as out of high school, and behind him the Tigers have Dominic Grooms, who is simply average. The Tigers would really like to be able to red-shirt uber-prospect Blaine Gabbert.
Barring tragedy (Pig Brown), or little injuries mounting up (Coffman last year), this team should stay healthy enough to maintain a high level of play all year.