2013 Mizzou Walkthrough: Young linebackers jockeying for a 2014 starting role

Dave Steckel has options at linebacker - Bill Carter

One or two youngsters will find themselves as at least a minor part of the linebacker rotation. But they've been turning heads in practice for quite a while now.

Clarence Green

#40 | 6'0, 225, So. | Clute, TX

2012: 1 game, 0.5 tackles

Bill C.: Find great athletes and teach 'em a position. That's one of Mizzou's strategies for scouring its recruiting areas and finding diamonds in the rough. Tiger coaches famously weren't sure at first whether Danario Alexander would end up a receiver or a linebacker. (They chose correctly.) Clarence Green definitely fits this model. A low three-star recruit via Rivals.com, Green was listed at just 195 pounds during his senior year in high school and chose Mizzou over offers from, basically, Kentucky and Tulsa. But he has packed on 30 pounds and, at the beginning of fall camp, had worked his way up to second-string strongside linebacker behind Donovan Bonner. He is speedy and should serve a solid role on special teams this year, but he's got his work cut out for him in fending off some of the younger players listed below and maintaining his second-string spot.

Linebacker is a lot like quarterback this year for Mizzou. Yes, there is a fight for playing time among younger players, but really, there is an even bigger positioning battle going on for starting in 2014. Bonner and Andrew Wilson are both seniors, and only current sophomore Kentrell Brothers and current junior Darvin Ruise are higher than these players on the totem pole. At least one player in this post will probably start in 2014, and it's possible that two will. So even if they aren't jockeying for much time (barring injuries, of course) in 2013, there is a purpose to watching how the depth chart continues to shake down, both in August and into the fall.

The Beef: Interesting size on Green, as he was someone who I thought may end up as a safety given where he was coming out of high school. Green is backing up Bonner at the WILL right now and is likely to see more time in the early part of the season than he might be come conference play.

countrycal: I see Scherer and Newsom both working their way past Green for playing time behind the first four. These three and Brothers give me a good feeling about the next few years. They are going to be a solid group of linebackers for several years to come.

Michael Scherer

#30 | 6'3, 235, RSFr. | St. Louis, MO

Bill C.: MAGIC MIKE. We've heard very good things about Michael Scherer in practice reports going back to last fall. He is the perfect size for a linebacker, and honestly, he still looks a bit skinny, like he could eventually move up to 240 or 245 without any sacrifice in performance. I am pretty confident in saying he will be one of the top four linebackers in the rotation in 2014, but he might have to hold off the next guy on the list if he wants to start.

The Beef: The second coming of Ray Lewis? I believe this was a spring camp joke. I do think Scherer sees some snaps behind Wilson at the MIKE to start the season. Can he parlay that into more play to give some important depth to this group? I think he may very well do that.

Donavin Newsom

#25 | 6'2, 230, RSFr. | St. Louis, MO

Bill C.: Donavin Newsom seems to get his name into every practice report, and he was given the honorary No. 25 in honor of the late Aaron O'Neal. Both of these things are excellent signs. Newsom struggled with injury late in his high school career, and it perhaps put a ding on both his recruiting ranking (still pretty high) and offers list (still pretty impressive). But he has, by all accounts, some tremendous athletic potential.

More about the No. 25:

Was awarded the No. 25 jersey in memory of former Tiger Aaron O'Neal, who died tragically in July of 2005 following a summer conditioning workout ... Newsom will wear that jersey for the rest of his playing days, and then will pass it along to another young linebacker ... He's a fitting choice for the honor, as he hails from the same St. Louis-area high school where O'Neal starred before coming to Mizzou.

The Beef: I feel like Newsom is on the crowded side, as he is third behind Brothers and Ruise. He has solid size, so he may be a name I am excited to hear if he has a great August.

Eric Beisel

#38 | 6'3, 235, Fr. | Fenton, MO

MizzouRugby: Looks as though Zeus will have to keep his lighting on the bench this year.

The Beef: My question on this young man is where he ends up. Personally, I would not be surprised to learn that Beisel has been moved to DE as an announcement preceding spring play.

countrycal: I expect both these kids to redshirt this year. Just don’t see any room for them to get playing time with the athletes they have ahead of them.

Bill C.: As Beef mentioned, Beisel's size gives Mizzou options. He naturally carries 235, and if Mizzou chooses, it could probably beef him up into a defensive end role. The coaches have done that many times through the years and have a track record for doing so.

That said, the kid moves really, really well for a linebacker -- great instincts and reaction time -- and has one hell of a mean streak. He's a football player no matter the position. We'll have to see if his speed translates to the linebacker position at this level (you never know until you see it for sure), and I guess there's at least a slight fear that he ends up a tweener, too slow for linebacker and too small for defensive end, but I'm not too worried about that. This kid's exciting.

Joe Burkett

#34 | 6'2, 205, Fr. | Jefferson City, MO

The Beef: I believe this young man is also a pole vaulter, which means he has tremendous athleticism. Will be interesting to see how quickly he can get to the field, but I think he has a year on the bench before that happens.

Bill C.: Andrew Gachkar 2.0.

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