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Which classes are most important to the 2017 Missouri Tigers?

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Mizzou’s got another young team on the field this year, right? Perhaps not as young as you’d think.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Missouri
Linebacker Eric Beisel is part of a small, resilient group of Class of 2013 contributors at Missouri.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The notion of “youth” and inexperience” got bandied about a bit during Missouri’s 4-8 season last year.

That’s understandable, given a mostly new offensive line, a sophomore quarterback, some flavor of freshman serving as three of the team’s top playmaking options and first-time starters populating all three levels of the defense.

That shouldn’t be the case this year. Missouri, actually, has one of the older-skewing rosters in the SEC when it comes to returning starts from last year’s team.

Say you’ve got four “signing classes” making up all the players returning for this season who played and started games last year — 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.

And when I say “signing class,” I mean actual signees from that year, walk-ons who joined the team that season and transfers who joined the team that season as well.

You’d postulate that a senior-heavy team would get most of its returning games and starts for 2017 out of the 2013 and 2014 classes, as those two classes would yield your true and redshirt seniors.

For Missouri, this is the case when it comes to starts, if not total games played. Missouri returns 217 games and 116 starts from the 2013-14 “classes” for the 2017 season, or 43.1 percent of its games and 66.3 percent of its starts.

Here’s a spreadsheet representation:

While Missouri gets its most returning games from 2015 (then 2014, 2016, 2013), it gets its most returning starts from 2013, then 2014, 2015, 2016 in an orderly fashion.

That 2013 class — like the 2012 one before it — is small and full of attrition. Only Jason Reese, A.J. Logan, Eric Beisel, J’Mon Moore, Alec Abeln, Anthony Sherrils and Joey Burkett remain.

But all of them (and redshirt senior guard Adam Ploudre, a former walk-on) also started at least one game last year and are all in line to compete for starting jobs again in 2017.

Small, but mighty.

How does Missouri’s breakdown compare with the rest of the SEC?

I don’t know. Leave me alone. Ask someone else.

...........

Nah, I’m just kidding. I went through participation reports from 2016 and current rosters from 2017 to duplicate this study for the other 13 SEC teams:

So the average SEC team looks to be relying heaviest on the 2015 class (mostly juniors and redshirt sophomores) for 2017, when it comes to returning games from 2016, at 36 percent. But it looks to be relying heaviest on the 2015 class (mostly seniors and redshirt juniors) most when it comes to starts, at 36.8 percent.

I highlighted Missouri’s figures in the middle of that overall chart so they would stand out, then also put Missouri’s spreadsheet first among the individual team ones so you didn’t have to click through and find it.

For a little bit quicker reference, here’s a rundown of how much each team is relying on each class when it comes to games and starts returning from 2016, by percent of total games and starts returning:

2013

Games

Vanderbilt — 23.7

Missouri — 20.2

Ole Miss -- 18.9

Georgia — 15.2

LSU — 13.1

Kentucky -- 12.9

League Average — 11.7

Tennessee -- 10.1

Florida -- 9.46

Texas A&M — 8.84

Arkansas -- 7.75

Mississippi State — 7.20

Alabama -- 6.73

South Carolina — 6.07

Auburn -- 4.48

——-

Starts

Vanderbilt -- 38.5

Missouri -- 33.7

LSU — 22.1

Tennessee — 18.8

Kentucky — 17.8

Georgia — 17.6

Alabama — 15.3

League Average — 14.9

Arkansas -- 13.5

Florida — 11.9

South Carolina — 7.43

Ole Miss — 4.93

Mississippi State — 2.86

Texas A&M -- 1.86

Auburn -- 0.00

—————

2014

Games

Arkansas -- 35.5

Mississippi State — 33.4

Vanderbilt -- 32.9

Tennessee -- 32.2

Alabama -- 31.5

Ole Miss — 30.5

League Average -- 28.7

South Carolina — 27.4

LSU -- 26.4

Kentucky — 26.1

Texas A&M — 25.9

Georgia — 24.9

Auburn — 28.7

Missouri -- 22.8

Florida — 22.6

——-

Starts

Auburn — 50.5

Georgia — 47.6

Arkansas — 46.5

Mississippi State -- 41.4

Tennessee — 41.3

Texas A&M — 38.5

Ole Miss — 38.0

South Carolina — 37.6

League Average — 36.8

Vanderbilt — 35.2

Kentucky — 33.7

Missouri -- 32.6

LSU -- 27.9

Florida -- 25.6

Alabama — 15.8

—————

2015

Games

Texas A&M — 44.6

Mississippi State -- 44.1

Auburn — 42.2

Kentucky — 37.3

Tennessee -- 36.3

League Average — 36.0

Florida -- 35.9

Missouri -- 35.9

Arkansas — 35.5

LSU — 35.2

Alabama — 34.5

South Carolina -- 33.3

Vanderbilt — 30.5

Ole Miss — 29.1

Georgia -- 28.4

——-

Starts

Alabama — 51.4

Texas A&M — 49.1

Mississippi State — 48.6

LSU -- 48.4

Florida -- 44.9

Kentucky -- 39.4

Auburn -- 37.6

League Average — 36.3

Tennessee — 36.3

Ole Miss — 35.9

South Carolina — 30.7

Arkansas — 27.1

Missouri — 26.3

Vanderbilt — 26.3

Georgia -- 18.0

—————

2016

Games

South Carolina — 33.3

Florida — 32.0

Georgia -- 31.5

Alabama — 27.3

LSU — 25.3

Auburn — 24.6

League Average — 23.7

Kentucky — 23.7

Ole Miss — 21.5

Tennessee -- 21.5

Arkansas -- 21.3

Missouri — 21.0

Texas A&M — 20.7

Mississippi State — 15.3

Vanderbilt — 13.0

——-

Starts

South Carolina -- 24.3

Ole Miss — 21.1

Florida -- 17.6

Alabama — 17.5

Georgia -- 16.7

Arkansas -- 12.9

League Average — 12.0

Auburn -- 11.9

Texas A&M -- 10.6

Kentucky -- 9.13

Missouri -- 7.43

Mississippi State -- 7.14

Tennessee -- 3.75

LSU — 1.64

Vanderbilt — 0.00