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Donavin Newsom’s might be Missouri’s most important play-maker in 2016

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The senior has to not only match his own improved production from 2015, but fill some of the void left by Kentrell Brothers.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Missouri Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Donavin Newsom

6’2, 230, Sr.

St. Louis, MO
2015: 52.0 tackles, 9 TFL (2.5 sacks), 2 PBU, 2 FF
2014: 18.5 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 PBU, 3 FF
2013: 4.5 tackles

davidcmorrison: Newsom’s had bust-out potential since, basically, the spring of 2014. Last year, with Barry Odom’s switch to using three linebackers regularly (rather than two and a nickelback), he had his moments. Odom also seemed to ask the most out of Newsom, versatility-wise, of anybody in the linebacker room. He was basically strongside linebacker, standup end and extra safety rolled into one.

He’s got the talent for it. He’s got the profile for it. And yet he still was in a position where he was almost sharing snaps with Clarence Green for the first third of last season. Nothing against Clarence Green, but Newsom has always been described as the sort of talent who could move mountains if he could just put it all together.

In games like Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas (it should be said, he did finish very well last year), you can see the Spoon-like guy Gary Pinkel used to talk about, using speed and angles to get in position to make plays that he really shouldn’t. In games like Connecticut, South Carolina and Mississippi State, he almost disappeared.

Missouri has 152 tackles to fill, and Newsom will be a prime candidate to pick up the slack. Consistency will be the keyword.

Sam Snelling: Newsom has blossomed into a very good player. He was the first to acknowledge his importance in the program as playing the same position while coming from the same high school as Aaron O’Neal. Newsom has worn that badge with honor and even wears O’Neal’s #25.

Beyond that, Newsom has become an integral part of this defense with his speed and ability to pursue from the strong side. He’s rounded into a very good college linebacker and has provided some big plays.

For Mizzou to maintain the level of play on this side of the ball this season, Newsom is going to have to take another step forward and be even more impactful than he was a year ago.

Bill C.: We’ve seen so many guys ease into important roles and thrive through the years, particularly in the front seven. I find myself almost assuming that Newsom will do the same. But Sam’s right: It’s vital that he does so. If not for Kentrell Brothers’ incredible season, we might have spent a good portion of the offseason talking about Newsom’s 2015 “breakout” -- he did, after all, make nine tackles for loss and record the first sacks of his career.

Brothers’ explosion, though, redefined what we think of as a “breakout.” So now, not only does Newsom need to match last year’s production (and as David said, a lot of that production came late in the year), but he has to exceed it by a good amount. Again, I assume he will. Hopefully that’s not simply blind faith.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports