clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Let's take a look at the 3-man battle for Mizzou's starting right tackle

It appears three players are vying for Mizzou's starting right tackle job. Let's take a look at the candidates.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Crawford (6'5, 290, So.)

The Beef: Nate Crawford has cemented his move from defense to offense and has gotten first crack at the RT position this fall. I feel like Crawford had a decent enough spring, but I think he will continue to have a battle on his hands from others to keep this spot.

AlaTiger: Crawford is good story on a team full of them. Whether he holds off Rhodes or not, the fact that the two of them were good enough to put two starters up against each other at LG is impressive. Crawford apparently brings his defensive lineman attitude and a heck of a work ethic with him to the RT spot. He also has the advantage of not having to unlearn bad habits.

Fullback U: Nate Crawford is a great story: an athlete who moved from defensive tackle to offensive tackle, bulked up, suffered a herniated disc and went through surgery this summer, but still kept the starting position. I think he performed very well through Mizzou's first scrimmage although I'm a bit concerned that he hasn't faced the same caliber of defensive end that he'll see in SEC games. I do think he'll be very good at run blocking and the fact that he's so young and raw means he's developing good habits and could be a potential left tackle next year.

Bill C.: The first thing we heard about Nate Crawford when he arrived from Florida in 2013 was that he possessed one hell of a competitive streak. To say the least, it takes a certain level of desire to change positions a couple of times but still end up starting on a line full of seniors -- as AlaTiger insinuated, Mizzou could have gone with five senior starters, but Crawford put a kink in those plans by, well, being good -- in only your third year on campus. I figure he will win the job at this point, and that's a lovely accomplishment. The next step: keeping the job.

Clay Rhodes (6'5, 280, So.)

The Beef: Here is one of the folks Nate Crawford will have to continue fending off for playing time. I will be honest in that I hoped Rhodes would have filled out just a bit more by now, but I think he has the strength to play out here.

Fullback U: It appeared that Rhodes might have fallen behind Malik Cuellar on the depth chart after the first scrimmage for whatever reason. I think he needs to build more strength before he can become a consistent starter, but I also believe he's one of A.J. Ricker's top eleven lineman heading into 2015.

Bill C.: We're previewing the offensive line for 2015, but as we go from player to player, there's another thought in mind: 2016 and beyond. Mizzou will probably be starting four seniors, with a fifth senior the first one off the bench. The development of not only Crawford, but also the other right tackle candidates, will be vital to 2016's success, as Mizzou will be quite stocked in just about every other unit.

Or, to put that another way, even if Rhodes doesn't win the job, he's in line for a starting gig in 2016 if he can keep the effort level up (and, yes, potentially put on a few more pounds). From all we've read about the amount of bulk he put on between high school and college, just to give himself a chance to play quickly, I'm not too worried about Rhodes' work ethic. The best-case scenario here is that the winner of this year's RT job is good enough to move to LT, giving the runner-up the first crack at RT next year.

Malik Cuellar (6'5, 300, Jr.)

The Beef: If Cuellar can impress, it might really change the look of this OL, as it could give Pinkel/Henson the luxury of moving him or McGovern to shore up anything else that needs it.

Cuellar has been on campus, so that should help. He was perceived to be more athletic than fellow JUCO transfer Tyler Howell (who did not qualify but could join the team in January).

AlaTiger: Cuellar has already been tied to battles at three positions: LT, LG, and RT. Whether he plays much this year or not, Cuellar will provide some additional experience next year when the line gets really young.

Fullback U: I think Cuellar is set to play tackle -- I'm just not sure which one. He's big but also slightly longer than the other lineman he's competing against, so I think if he improves his strength and adapts to the speed of the SEC he can work his way into a steady rotation.

Bill C.: And again, no matter what he does this year, he will be the only scholarship senior on the roster next year (barring a graduate transfer, I guess). Even if things don't totally click until 2016 ... it won't really matter, as long as they do click.