#9 | 6'0, 205, Jr. | Gilmer, TX
2011: 11 games, 28.5 tackles, 1 FR
2012: 12 games, 50.0 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 FR
Bill C.: The 2010 recruiting class was one of the most highly-rated of Gary Pinkel's tenure, coming in at 21st in the Rivals.com rankings. The Tigers signed a solid seven four-star signees and a pretty impressive 10 recruits given the highest three-star designation. And to be sure, there are some stars in this class. Kony Ealy, James Franklin, Marcus Lucas, and Jimmie Hunt were four of the four-star guys, and while none of them have produced at a consistent, four-star level, they've obviously shown glimpses. Meanwhile, among the "highest three-star" players are E.J. Gaines and Henry Josey, not to mention other 2013 starters (or standouts) Matt Hoch, Mitch Morse, Marcus Murphy, Anthony Gatti, and Lucas Vincent. Good class.
Still, here are the other four-star signees: Nick Demien, Tyler Gabbert, and Tristen Holt. Demien hasn't panned out, Gabbert left as soon as Franklin passed him in the quarterbacks race in 2011, and Holt was kicked off the team pretty early in his career. Holt's cousin, Braylon Webb, almost seemed like a throw-in at the time, a package deal to get Holt. Gary Pinkel doesn't tend to hand out scholarships that way, of course, but it was easy to think that. Webb was one of the six "others" in the class (lower three-stars), but while Holt is long gone, Webb enters 2013 as a seasoned, steady, second-year starter.
We like our safeties to be William Moore or Pig Brown, guys with ball skills and attitude. But Mizzou has fielded a lot of successful teams with safeties basically serving invisible roles, preventing embarrassment in the back and tackling well near the line of scrimmage. Mizzou's 2012 defense fed off of a disruptive front four, but the Tigers were disruptive mostly against the run. The pass rush was only decent, but Mizzou still fielded a top-40 pass defense because of the secondary. Yes, E.J. Gaines gets a large portion of credit for that, but you don't rank in the top 40 without stability at safety, and if there's one adjective for Webb, it's "steady." (Hell, he's apparently even going to be the holder on place-kicks this season; that's the steadiest of the steady positions on the field.)
We've pretty clearly learned through the years that Pinkel values high floor over high ceiling; upside is great, but it must not be accompanied by much downside. And in Webb, Mizzou has a player who might not have the most upside in the world, but he plays relatively mistake-free ball, and he's just athletic enough to make himself valuable. In the absence of a Willie Mo or Pig, Braylon Webb will do just fine.
The Beef: A solid player who has developed into a rock in the back. Webb will have to be able to not only assist in coverage against many of the teams we play who run wide open sets, while coming up to help stuff the run against the teams who like to grind it out. Webb will be counted upon and will be expected. Who plays opposite him is still in question.
countrycal: I anticipate a solid performance this season that may even get him some conference attention. He’s got the experience and the tools, and showed last year he knows how to use them. He is going to have to be big for us this year, and I am confident he can do that.