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Succeeding Kentrell Brothers is a tall task. Which Mizzou linebacker will be asked to do it?

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Can Joey Burkett fend off other exciting young youngsters to start for the Tigers?

Joey Burkett vs. SEMO Derrick Forsythe (Rock M Nation)

Joey Burkett

6’2, 210, Jr.

Jefferson City, MO
2015: 7.0 tackles

davidcmorrison: Last name starts with “B.” It’s two syllables. Yep, I’d say that about qualifies him to take over for Kentrell Brothers as Missouri’s leading tackler and one of the tops in the nation. Kidding. Maybe.

We don’t have much in the way of empirical evidence when it comes to Burkett’s bona fides as Brothers’ heir apparent. He has all of 15 defensive snaps in his Missouri career. He has been one of the team’s most active special teams players, which usually bodes well for defense. Teammates have talked him up as a quick, talented athlete. And he was a pole vaulter in high school, which is odd and cool.

But the fact that I’m desperately avoiding discussion of his football credentials should tell you that I just don’t know that much about him as an SEC linebacker. Michael Scherer and Donavin Newsom have the potential to be such an effective combo that Missouri won’t need anything spectacular out of its Will, just someone it can trust to execute assignments.

Can Burkett be that? He’ll get a look, at least.

Sam Snelling: More than anything, Burkett has had the misfortune of playing behind Kentrell Brother. But Burkett has shown he’s a capable backup and now has to step into the starting role. If he isn’t up to the task, there is a host of young and hungry linebackers behind him that would welcome the chance, but I’d expect Burkett to be solid and take care of his new role as starting weakside LB.

Bill C.: My opinion on Burkett is a process of deduction. I really like Brandon Lee, and I really like Terez Hall. If he beats out the two of them to start alongside Scherer and Newsom, he must be pretty damn good.

Former defensive coordinator Dave Steckel was really high on Burkett’s athleticism and potential when he signed a few years ago, but he got lost in the shuffle for a while. That happens sometimes. He’s still got two years to make a name for himself, and beating out Lee, Hall, and company is a good start.

Brandon Lee

Indianapolis, IN
2015: 3.0 tackles, 1 PBU

davidcmorrison: Lee’s greatest strength at this point in his career is his versatility. He can play backup to Scherer at middle, which wouldn’t mean great things for his playing time. He could tuck in behind Newsom at the Sam, or he could get into the mix at Will as well. Heck, he’s even repped at long snapper if all that fails.

Ever since his signing, Lee has held promise as a light, quick option who could use his athleticism to hold his own in the pass game but needed a little more bulk to be able to come up to the line and crack some skulls. Frankly, I still think that’s about where Lee is.

Sam Snelling: The highly touted LB from Indiana will have opportunities this year, but his more natural position of playing in the middle might prevent him from playing a whole lot, as you don’t imagine Michael Scherer will come off the field much, if at all.

Lee is a guy who I think has a bright future, and he could push for some snaps on the strong side, but we might be a year away from finding out if this highly touted recruit can go from recruiting win to anchor of the defense.

Terez Hall

6’2, 215, So.

Lithonia, GA
2015: 5.5 tackles

davidcmorrison: Hall was a bit of a revelation during spring ball, even supplanting Newsom as the starter at Sam for a time. Odom was very high on Hall during the recruiting process, and Hall parlayed that momentum into a significant role on the Tigers’ special teams right off the bat, though that never translated to consistent defensive snaps in a stacked linebacking corps.

That could change this year, with a gaping hole on the weakside, and Hall (from all indications) a physically prepared candidate to plug in. His game could still use the refinement that comes from game reps, but the only way to figure out how quickly that’ll come along is to actually put him out there and give him some shots.

Sam Snelling: Hall is a name to watch out for, as he was a priority target for Barry Odom once Odom committed to be the defensive coordinator under Gary Pinkel. Hall had late interest from some SEC schools that play a lot closer to his hometown but Odom stayed tight and was able to keep Hall in the fold. For that reason I expect to see a lot of Hall in the future and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to steal some snaps on the weak side as the season wears along.

Bill C.: As excited as I am to get to watch Scherer and Newsom anchoring the linebacking corps this year, I’m almost equally excited to see what comes of the 2017 unit. Lee ... Hall ... Burkett ... Cale Garrett ... Franklin Agbasimere ... Trey Baldwin ... it seems Mizzou has more young, exciting athletes at linebacker than at any other position, and next fall, leadership gets turned over to them.

Hall might have the most play-making potential of anybody, but carving out a niche in 2016 might be a little bit difficult. But if he makes the most out of early opportunities (and at the very least, he should get some chances against EMU and Delaware State), maybe he parlays that into further chances. His athleticism and aggression are fantastic. He’ll harness it before he leaves Columbia.

@OscarGambler