It's time for one of my favorite posts of the year, one I shamelessly stole from Peter at Burnt Orange Nation last year. In fact, rather than explaining the concept behind "My Guys" again, allow me to steal from myself stealing from Peter:
For the past two years, our colleagues at Burnt Orange Nation have run what's become one of my favorite features, a post titled "My Guys."
In essence, PB, proprietor of the site and SBN College head honcho, picks out the five guys he thinks might be flying just a little too far below the radar for his tastes. Here's how PB explains it in this year's version of My Guys:
One of my favorite pieces to read prior to each MLB season is Joe Sheehan's "My Guys" column, penned before each year to highlight those players Joe is eyeballing for a breakout season, yet who aren't receiving big time hype. Translating that to Texas football, I'm looking for those guys (limit of five) who might surprise a lot of folks with how well they play this year -- those with the highest production-to-hype ratio.
This year, I've decided to shamelessly steal emulate and honor the My Guys concept.
So what has made My Guys so difficult this season? Quite simply, the hype machine is in full force. Mizzou certainly still has its holes and its question marks, but thanks to the work of Mizzou beat reporters, there really aren't many secrets left regarding personnel. In fact, you could make the case that every single one of My Guys don't qualify because they have already received too much hype.
But enough whining about Mizzou having talent and moaning about receiving a ton of information from practice reports. After the jump is the list of My Guys in 2010:
Michael Egnew - Egnew is prime example No. 1A for what made this list so difficult this season. A junior with zero career starts, seven receptions and 47 yards should be a prime sleeper candidate, right? Apparently not, as the secret on Egnew is out. As Bill and I have noted on numerous occasions, it's almost unfair to Egnew to directly compare him to Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman. The consensus on Mizzou's current corps of pass catchers seems to be that the group is high upside, high variance. If Egnew's small sample size shows us anything, it may be that he's ready to be the steadying, consistent chainmover that Missouri could desperately need in 2010. To the amateur eye, he seems to be a heady player with solid hands and a good feel for creating space and separation with his route running. He seems to be on Blaine Gabbert's radar, which places him squarely on my radar as well.
Jasper Simmons - I think I have a thing for defensive backs that end up being somewhat embattled. Just as Bill C. and I have been two of the only members aboard the Carl Gettis Treatment™ bandwagon during times of criticism during the last few years, I've found myself having to speak out in defense of Simmons this offseason. On the surface, I can understand the concern. In Missouri's most memorable win last season, Simmons had probably his roughest 60 minutes of football, appearing to be on the hook for a number of receptions by Kansas receivers (including the now sadly famous ass-skidding when sliding past Dezmon Briscoe). But for some, lost in one bad game was the way in which he performed for the rest of the season. He was Missouri's best player not named Danario in Stillwater, he was fantastic in Manhattan, and his tackle numbers (11, six solo) against Kansas weren't shabby. Though he has yet to do it week in and week out, Simmons has proven himself in coverage and in run support, and I'm willing to make Simmons My Guy based on the assumption that it all finally comes together for a full season in 2010.
Bud Sasser - It's hard not to get infatuated with the freshman receiver trio of Sasser, Marcus Lucas and Jimmie Hunt. During signing day, Lucas, the native Missourian, seemed to get the most hype from the fan base for his size and skill set. He and Hunt earned 4-star billings from Rivals.com and the early burden of expectation. But what drew me to Sasser was a combination of his pedigree and production at the high school level. Playing in a similar spread offense at Class 4A power Denton Ryan High School in North Texas, Sasser put up 1,000+ yards and 23 touchdowns during his senior season. But what excites me most is what Sasser might be able to deliver in the red zone. As we noted in the 2010 Missouri Football Preview, Sasser might be the redzone threat Mizzou has ached for since Coffman's departure. If he presents a steady redzone threat, anything he does between the 20s is just a bonus.
Zaviar Gooden - Again, Gooden isn't exactly a secret. His spring 40 times have become something of an urban legend in mid-Missouri. But it simply wouldn't be My Guys without me shamelessly attaching myself to the Mizzou linebacking corps (and let's face it -- I'm way beyond being on record re: Will Ebner). Gooden has the unenviable task of trying to fill the departed shoes of Sean Weatherspoon, but he seems to be a little bit under the radar compared to Andrew Gachkar and the Ebner/Luke Lambert duo. Last season, 12 different Tigers had more tackles than Gooden, who finished the season with 30. But in 2010, I'm willing to go on record guessing that Gooden will lead the Tigers in tackles, and will do so by a margin of at least 15 stops.
James Franklin - To be fair, James Franklin had been my guy ever since he even started considering Missouri. Now, consider me officially on record. Here's to hoping his load is light thanks to a healthy and productive full season for Blaine Gabbert, but when the reins get officially handed over at some point in the next two years, consider me pumped to see what JF1 does with them.
So... who are Your Guys in 2010?