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Missouri’s offensive line “veterans” have plenty to prove in 2016

We’ve heard a lot about the upside of Mizzou linemen like Kevin Pendleton, Paul Adams, and Alec Abeln, yet they evidently weren’t regarded well enough to see the field for a line desperate for help. Can they prove worthy of praise in 2016?

Alec Abeln

6’3, 290, Jr.

St. Louis, MO

Oscar Gamble: Alec Abeln is Missouri’s most experienced offensive lineman, having started at left guard and played some at center last year. He wasn’t quite ready last year, but the Tiger legacy will have a place on the 2016 line — likely at right guard.

TheRonDavis: Abeln did not have the best year last season, but the good news is, he gets a fresh start with a new coach. With Nate Crawford retiring from football, Abeln is the Tigers’ most experienced offensive lineman. He’s also someone who took after Evan Boehm quite a bit. He might not be Missouri’s best o-lineman, but he’s going to have to be a leader in that position group.

Sam Snelling: If Missouri’s offensive line is going to turn a corner from last years disaster, Abeln has to be a part of the solution. Regardless of where he plays on the line, Abeln needs to show great improvement over his questionable play from last year, where he fell in and out of the lineup due to his inconsistent reads and occasional missed assignments.

Needless to say, he’s a big key for Missouri if they hope for the offense to take a big step forward from whatever you want to call last year.

Bill C.: When Abeln began 2015 as a starter, my natural reaction was excitement -- when a youngster overtakes semi-incumbent upperclassmen, that usually says something about upside. Unfortunately, it ended up saying more about a total lack of strong options on the interior.

Abeln by all accounts has the smarts to take on the role of leader on the line, so maybe he just wasn’t quite ready to make a difference in 2015. Maybe he will indeed be ready this fall. That’s the hope, anyway.

Kevin Pendleton

6’4, 315, So.

Lee’s Summit, MO

Oscar Gamble: I’ve touted Kevin Pendleton in every post he’s involved in. I believe he’s a starting guard for as long as he’s in Columbia. He’s stepped up to the challenge of being a leader for a very young squad, actively encouraging and cheering his teammates during practices and drills. It also helps that he’s very large and strong and appears to play with a tenacity that was frequently absent last year from the offensive line.

TheRonDavis: I think Kevin Pendleton came into college with some bad weight but has harnessed it and turned into good football weight. I wish he received more playing time last year, but his little experience so far will allow him to be a starter.

Sam Snelling: If you’ve listened to the podcast over the years, you’d know I’ve long been on the Kevin Pendleton bandwagon. That extended to occasional rants — I wondered why Pendleton wasn’t playing more, as it seemed like each time he was inserted into the lineup Mizzou would suddenly run for five or six yards. Then he’d come out and they’d get dropped for a loss of three.

Pendleton is a strong and impactful interior lineman who needs to be a big part of the offensive turnaround, he’s got everything you could want to get there.

Bill C.: 2016 is going to end up a referendum of sorts on both 2016 and 2015. It really was odd to see Missouri trot out the same struggling line each week while we continued to get random hints about young guys like Pendleton and Paul Adams coming along nicely. It could have just been a weight/strength issue -- they needed another year of sculpting before they could be ready to contribute. Or it could have been that Mizzou’s coaching staff was deferring to the seniors last year whether they were able to contribute or not.

If Pendleton in particular thrives, we’ll suspect it was the latter, fair or not. Regardless, it’s weird to be in this position, excited about a couple of the team’s younger players ... even though they apparently weren’t regarded well enough to see more action on a bad line.

Kevin Pendleton (Derrick Forsythe/Rock M Nation)

Paul Adams

6’6, 290, So.

Nashville, TN

Oscar Gamble: Adams has the frame and size to play the position, but it’s hard to know given how little we’ve seen of him so far. He’s one of Missouri’s most experienced lineman and is pretty popular among his teammates, and he has a hold on the right tackle spot.

I recall hearing during spring camp he wears #77 because his role model is former Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan.

TheRonDavis: Like Pendleton, Adams probably deserved more playing time last fall. Though he’s yet to play much, he was in the same position room with Mitch Morse, Connor McGovern and Evan Boehm. Perhaps he’s next in line. That’s a lot to live up to, but he’ll get his shot.

Sam Snelling: Adams is one of the more outgoing players and has been pushed up the depth chart despite not coming in with a lot of herald as a recruit. But it’s easy to like Adams athleticism and size for being a stalwart on the outside.

He’s much more in line with the Pinkel style of recruiting the O-line than what Odom and company have shown so far, but the guy can move and you need deft feet on the outside. If Adams is the man on the right side I think the Tigers could have the formation of a solid line for the next few years.

Bill C.: I recall hearing last year that Adams had awesome quickness and just needed more time to build strength. If that’s the case, he could be ready to not only step into the lineup in 2016 but hold onto his spot for the next three seasons.