5’10, 190, Jr.
2014: 27 carries, 101 yards (3.7), 1 TD
2015: 126 carries, 518 yards (4.1), 1 TD; 20 targets, 15 catches, 143 yards (7.2)
Oscar Gamble: Ish Witter is not a lead back. I think 2015 established that beyond a reasonable doubt. He was fans’ whipping boy because he struggled manufacturing positive yards behind an awful line and went down at the slightest contact.
For the past two years Witter has finished somewhat strong. During the spring, Michael Scherer said Witter was a changed man, a much harder runner. We’ll see about that.
As Bill noted during our spring previews, Witter rushed 37 times for 176 yards (4.8 per carry) in his last four games and in 2014 had 13 carries for 77 yards (a strong 5.9 per carry) in his last seven. What that tells me is Witter is a quintessential Missouri scat-back who’s better suited for runs like the 2014 touchdown below against Texas A&M. If Missouri can effectively conserve his touches, Witter can be a productive option in 2016.
Sam Snelling: I’m not really sure what to make of Witter. He’s seems to have lacked just a little in a few important areas, but he could be a pretty solid option this season.
If there is one back I had to put money on the get the most carries this season, Ish might be the guy. Where Witter struggled was early on in the season he wasn’t making decisive cuts. As the season went along, despite playing behind a bad line, he was being more decisive once the ball was in his hands and you could see that translate to productivity.
Missouri doesn’t need Ish to be Eddie George or Adrian Peterson, but if he can be a reliable guy to get positive yardage, I think there’s a likely 12-15 touches a game with his name on it.
TheRonDavis: Experience goes a long way when it comes to who the coaches want on the field. However, it shouldn’t be the only factor. At 5’10, 190, Witter shouldn’t be given 20 carries a game, nor should he line up in the backfield near the goal line. But he deserves credit for staying healthy and doing some occasionally strong running behind an offensive line that never came together in 2015.
I don’t see Witter as a the Tigers’ feature back in 2016, but he has plenty to contribute. He’s a nice change of pace back who can catch 25 passes out of the backfield this season. Like Drew Lock, I think Witter wants to show out and make fans forget about 2015.
Bill C.: So ... takes differ, in other words.
By the end of spring ball, I decided I had seen enough from Witter to think he had come along enough to trust as a starter. And then I rejoiced when Mizzou signed Alex Ross and Nate Strong became eligible.
If Ross, Strong, Damarea Crockett, or anybody else can create a bit of a punishing presence, Josh Heupel can utilize Witter in the best possible way: allowing him to split carries on first and second downs while serving as one heck of a third-down back. He showed against BYU and in the spring game that he could be a dangerous weapon on screens and dump-offs, and I’m excited about the thought of him playing a big role in the offense ... but not too big a role.