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Kentrell Brothers balances "tackling machine" steadiness with play-maker instincts

Bill Carter

Kentrell Brothers (6'1, 235, Sr.)

2014: 92.0 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 sack, 4 PBU, 3 FF, 2 QB hurries

2013: 55.0 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 1 sack, 3 INT, 3 PBU, 2 QB hurries

2012: 10.5 tackles, 1 PBU

The Beef: Brothers has a chance to put the exclamation point on a pretty damn solid career for the Tigers if he can repeat his 2014 season as a tackling machine in the middle of the field, stretching out to the boundary. One thing I do wonder about (and this not just with Kentrell, but everyone who is not in the front four) is if Barry Odom’s style of defensive play calling will result in any additional pressure being created from the back seven.

The returning members of the back seven combined to register only 3.5 sacks last year. Not a huge deal when the front four was so productive, but it is an interesting wrinkle in the transition the defense will go through between Stec and Odom.

switzy227: I’ve been a Brothers fan since early on, and I am hopeful that this season will propel him toward an NFL career. Beyond that, I can only say that Beef covered the key points about scheme and play-calling. That will be a massive part of what Brothers’ season ultimately looks like.

AlaTiger: Brothers is an excellent player who is underappreciated outside of Mizzou, and he is not very happy about that. A motivated Kentrell Brothers is a very good thing.

jaeger: Brothers may be the most underrated player in college football. He’s the leading returning tackler in the SEC, and nobody seems to care. And judging from his tweets, he’s noticed. I expect Kentrell to tackle someone so hard in the season opener that they simply cease to be. There will be a bright flash of light, and it will be as if SEMO only fielded 10 offensive players.

Fullback U: Brothers' size might suggest he'd be better suited in coverage than stuffing the run, but he was Mizzou's leader in tackles (122), ahead of middle linebacker Michael Scherer (114), had five tackles for a loss, a sack, four passes broken up, three fumbles forced and six games with double-digit tackles. He's started every game the past two years and is primed to have another year of standout production.

It’s my opinion Barry Odom is champing at the bit to turn Brothers into more than just a tackler. He wants Brothers to become a dynamic play maker, be it rushing the passer or in coverage, and his athleticism will allow Odom to disguise schemes.

We’ve seen and heard hints about the manner in which Brothers will be used -- maybe some exotic fire zone blitzes? We know Barry Odom wants to force teams to make mistakes, and we know they’ll have to come from more than just the defensive line pressure, so it stands to reason Brothers will be the primary benefactor of this new emphasis.

Bill C.: In two years, Kentrell Brothers has defensed 10 passes (three picks, seven breakups) and recorded 9.5 non-sack tackles for loss (i.e. run stuffs or screens blown up). That's one hell of a combination considering his primary job is to make tackles when the perimeter defenders force the ball his (and Mike Scherer's) way. It's hard to balance being the steady tackles guy and being an actual play-maker, but Brothers is doing a nice job of it.

Like others have said, though, he might have to find an even more unique balance this year as he's asked to make more plays ... and still be Kentrell the Tackling Machine. At the first scrimmage, he was used as a blitzer a couple of times and flushed the QB from the pocket. Probably a sign of things to come.

Brothers was a high-three-star recruit per Rivals who chose Mizzou over offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Duke, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Washington, and others. He committed during the home stretch of the 10-win 2010 season, and he has now been a massive contributor for teams that have won a combined 23 games the last two years. I can't wait to see what he does for his finale.

(Bill Carter)