2013 Mizzou Walkthrough: Brothers and Ruise battle for the starting weakside linebacker job

Bill Carter

Kentrell Brothers

#10 | 6'1, 240, So. | Guthrie, OK

2012: 11 games, 10.5 tackles, 1 PBU

Bill C.: There aren't that many starting spots available on the 2013 defense -- most of them have been long accounted for. That's good as a whole, but you do like when younger players get a chance to shine. One of the two stiffest battles has come at weakside linebacker, where it appears a youngster from Oklahoma might be overtaking a veteran (of sorts) from Florida.

* Kentrell Brothers: 31 [snaps with the first string at Thursday's scrimmage]
* Darvin Ruise: 4

This is probably pretty shocking to most — since Ruise, just last week, was No. 1 on the depth chart. After Saturday's scrimmage, Brothers stole the spot. He seems to have a pretty tight grip on it, too, according to these numbers.

"Right now," Ruise said Wednesday, "it's just kind of up in the air."

Not sure, though, that is still the case.

It should be noted that Brothers had an interception to end the scrimmage. He picked off Mauk during a two-minute drill.

The first thing we all noticed about Kentrell Brothers last year was that the dude can hit. Relegated mostly to special teams duty, Brothers covered a lot of ground in a rather quick manner (for someone 6'1, 240) and was frequently around the ball. That he struggled to crack the rotation says quite a bit about the experience that Mizzou had there last year -- two seniors and two juniors played almost the entire year. But in a heated battle with Ruise, he seems to be showing a rather well-rounded skill set. In practice reports last week, it was noted that he was spending quite a bit of time in the first-string nickel look, which says something about his pass coverage and tackling abilities. And in the second scrimmage earlier today, he stole almost all of the first-string reps from Ruise.

Though Brothers is only one year behind Ruise, I've viewed this battle as one of those "older, established players versus young kid with upside" fights, where you almost kind of hope the youngster wins the job because of the upside involved. Brothers was making noise in fall camp as a true freshman before an injury and subsequent redshirt, so it has been long assumed that he has pretty strong potential. Apparently he's beginning to turn that into production. That's exciting.

The Beef: I think this is going to be a battle many pay attention to throughout the month of August.

countrycal: This kid has "potential" written all over him. I would love to see him become the next Sean Witherspoon. If he doesn’t pass Ruise this year, he will certainly get plenty of time to shine in the following two years. I think he will get a great deal of playing time early, at least enough to give him a chance to have a break-out year.

Darvin Ruise

#12 | 6'1, 240, Jr. | Glen St. Mary, FL

2011: 12 games, 1.0 tackles
2012: 12 games, 6.0 tackles

The Beef: I think he has quite the fight on his hands. I recall being excited about Ruise when he came to Mizzou, and I think it is interesting that he came to us from Florida before we moved to the SEC. Whether Ruise starts or ends up backing up, he should play a ton.

Bill C.: That's a key point. Andrew Wilson and Donovan Bonner are entrenched, but their backups are raw and mostly untested. Even if Ruise indeed loses the job to Brothers, it is possible that he basically turns into this year's Bonner, a junior who becomes something of a backup at all positions, the first substitution in no matter who comes out. Because he came from a unique recruiting area (at the time), because he's more or less shaped exactly like Sean Weatherspoon, and because he even wears No. 12 now, he has been subject to quite a few expectations. But he still has time to make some noise, especially considering he'll be a senior next year, when Mizzou is losing two senior starters.

countrycal: The two seniors are classic linebackers – Ruise is a classic athlete. He can be exciting, but he can also be a little out of control at times. He will have to use every bit of his speed, strength and instincts and play heads-up football to hold off the sophomore who is coming on behind him. If he puts it all together, he may well show us some Zavier Gooden-type linebacking.

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