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Terry Beckner Jr. will return to Mizzou in 2018

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Good lord, are the Tigers going to be loaded at defensive tackle.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It was easy to assume that Missouri’s upcoming bowl game would be Terry Beckner Jr.’s last one in a Tiger uniform, and it was hard to even slightly feel upset about it. The former blue-chipper had suffered season-ending knee injuries in each of his first two seasons, and following the surge he experienced over the second half of his junior season, it made perfect sense if he chose to jump to the pros instead of risking another injury at Mizzou.

Beckner had other ideas.

Text:

I'm excited to make this decision and move on to finishing this season out the right way. We have a chance to do something REALLY SPECIAL and keep momentum going into next year, and I WANT TO BE PART OF THAT and help lead this team in the right direction. I LOVE MIZZOU, and I've grown so much this year working with Coach (Brick) Haley, but there's so much more that I can learn from him.

I'M REALLY GRATEFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE A TIGER AND I WANT TO DO EVERYTHING I CAN TO HELP US DO BIG THINGS.

Two things about this announcement:

1. Beckner automatically becomes one of the more beloved recent Tigers with this decision.

Not only did the five-star East St. Louis product choose Mizzou to begin with, despite offers from virtually every program in the country, but now he’s going out of his way to stay, perhaps for an All-American run as a senior? Yeah, that’ll do it.

2. Good lord, is Mizzou going to be loaded at defensive tackle in 2018.

Mizzou’s defense is now scheduled to lose just four defensive starters — ends Marcell Frazier and Jordan Harold, tackle A.J. Logan, and safety Anthony Sherrils. Other seniors like linebackers Eric Beisel and Joey Burkett and DBs Logan Cheadle, Thomas Wilson, and Anthony Hines all got overtaken by younger players in the starting lineup.

Granted, losing Logan is not nothing; Beckner’s surge, and that of the line as a whole, correlated with basically the moment he returned midseason from suspension. But with four-star Texas transfer Jordan Elliott becoming eligible and everyone from a large supporting cast returning — juniors Rashad Brandon and Walter Palmore, sophomore Markell Utsey, and freshmen Kobie Whiteside and Akial Byers — it’s hard to look at this tackle unit and not see one of the best in the SEC.

Oh yeah, and JUCO transfer Antar Thompson is committed, and Mizzou isn’t yet out of the race for four-star St. Louis tackle Michael Thompson.

A sturdy, disruptive backbone (tackles, inside linebackers, safeties) is just about the best thing a defense can have, and between Beckner, linebackers Terez Hall (who should also get a lot of all-SEC hype) and Cale Garrett, and a deep unit of safeties (starter Kaleb Prewett, plus a large supporting cast of guys like Cam Hilton, Josh Bledsoe, Ronnell Perkins, Tyree Gillespie, and Jordan Ulmer), Mizzou’s spine will be as sturdy as it’s been since 2015.

Best Friday news dump in a while.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports