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Can Eric Beisel and other overlooked Mizzou LBs still make a name for themselves?

Beisel in particular has shown potential, but he’s been lost in the linebacker shuffle so far.

Missouri v South Carolina Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages

Eric Beisel

6’3, 225, Jr.

Fenton, MO
2015: 3.0 tackles
2014: 11.5 tackles, 0.5 TFL

davidcmorrison: Beisel has been a favorite fantasy football player of Missouri fans for the past three years. But, after seeing only about 100 actual defensive snaps as Scherer’s backup in 2014, he regressed to about a dozen last year. What does Beisel have to do in order to see the field more frequently?

“Continue as Scherer’s backup” does not appear to be the answer. At least not for this fall. He’s been a popular conjecture subject as a candidate to move to defensive end, but Missouri appears to have a bunch of options there as well. If Beisel wants to see more non-special teams playing time before his senior year, he’s going to have to show a more well-rounded game than he has in limited exposure up to this point. We know he has strength and aggression (oh, and that awesome beard) going for him. What else does he have?

Sam Snelling: Are we reaching the point in Beisel’s career where we start to wonder if we’ll ever see him on the field much? Beisel looks the part, he’s a big and physical player and his size and, quite frankly, amazing red hair and a badass red beard. #TeamRedBeard

It will be interesting to see how much Beisel sees the field this year, as I think he was an exciting sign a few years ago, we’re all just waiting for the payoff.

Bill C.: This is a “trust the coaches” thing with me. Beisel looks the part and seems to pack a nice level of aggression into his game. But he continues to ... not see the field. I guess there’s a reason.

I do commend Beisel for this, though: He’s still here. He continues to say all the right things and, it seems, work as hard as possible to find a niche at Mizzou. And he’s got two more years to figure things out.

Grant Jones

6’3, 225, So.

Columbia, MO

davidcmorrison: Jones has kind of been like Beisel Jr. in his time on campus, just with a few more injury issues, a little less initial hype, a local connection and (until this year) a father on the coaching staff. But, like Beisel, he’s only really gotten a chance to prove himself on special teams and his path of the depth chart has looked cloudy at best.

And his best route to the field has seemed to be if he puts his hand in the dirt and tries out a little defensive end. He played it well at Hickman, after all, and would seem to have the requisite quickness and projectable frame to where he could play at 245-255 and be an effective player off the edge.

But, again, Missouri’s pretty well stocked at end for the foreseeable future. This might be another year of special teams reps for Jones before he cracks the defensive rotation in 2017.

Sam Snelling: We’re getting into the “crowded” part of the linebacking depth. Jones was a versatile player at Hickman but picked a pretty crowded position to play in college. He’s already a proven special teams player and could see another season of contributions there before getting more opportunity on the field.

Or I could be completely wrong and he could be the starter on the weak side in Morgantown. Without a depth chart it’s difficult to know. Just knowing who was ahead of him at this point last year, it seems easy to guess that he’ll have some work cut out for him to get many snaps on defense.

Roderick Winters

5’11, 225, So.

Arlington, TX

davidcmorrison: Winters has had an incredibly unfortunate Missouri career when it comes to injuries. The hope for him was always that he was a “diamond in the rough” type. A little undersized at outside linebacker but with enough athletic ability to be promising and enticing if coaches could mold him in the image of the defense. That progress has been stalled considerably by injuries. How quickly can he make up the ground he’s already lost?

Sam Snelling: Winters is probably the biggest wildcard in the entire bunch because we haven’t seen much of anything from him yet. He redshirted then was hurt for a portion of the season last year, which set him back. He’s on the shorter side but carries his 225 well.

Bill C.: It feels like both Jones and Winters have been in Columbia for quite a while, but both still have three years of eligibility left. Mizzou’s linebacking corps is loaded with young, exciting athletes, and while they’ve both been forgotten to some degree, they’ve got time.