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Nate Howard’s Missouri dismissal means opportunity for a young defensive end or two

Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

Missouri’s Thursday announcements that Malik Young hadn’t qualified and Nate Howard had been dismissed were certainly disappointing, but it’s hard to say they were surprising. The simple fact that Young hadn’t been cleared yet was a sign he might not ever be cleared; meanwhile, since Howard’s arrest in June, his status was tenuous at best.

Surprising or not, the loss of Howard confirms a particular need. While the two other JUCO tackles — Walter Palmore and Rashad Brandon — seem to be getting up to speed and helping to provide depth on the interior, there is really only one known quantity at end at this point: Marcell Frazier.

While senior Jordan Harold is still around (and is probably your likely starter opposite Frazier), Howard’s offiical absence has created the need for a young end to step up quickly.

Franklin Agbasimere and Tre Williams were late bloomers in high school but now find themselves among the crowd of Mizzou players competing to replace departed defensive end Charles Harris. [...]

Otherwise, Odom’s staff is looking for depth and, perhaps, challengers for the projected starters. Freshmen Chris Turner and Akial Byers are making strong impressions. Junior college transfer Nate Anderson could be a factor. Saturday’s scrimmage will help shape the pecking order for the start of the season.

“Like I tell them all the time, I won’t make the depth chart,” defensive line coach Brick Haley said. “They will. They’ll make it how they produce and play every day.”

Agbasimere is still learning the ins and outs of the position (and the game as a whole) but has had some shining moments in fall camp. And optimism for the position appears strong.

Williams is also trying to stand out. He’s already a standout quote, at least.

"Anybody coming in with that chip on their shoulder, being a hometown kid, anybody would say, 'I'm ready to play! I'm ready to play!'" Williams said. "But you come in (at) 225 (pounds), summer goes by a little bit, you get 10 pounds on — still not big enough. You're getting thrown around out there. You're not big enough to actually play in the SEC. Being redshirted, I was kind of poop-faced — kinda salty — but I got through it."

(There’s a great story in there about how his mom found out he was playing football, too.)

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"[Rashad Brandon]'s real physical. Violent player, quick hands," Terry Beckner Jr. said. "(The defensive line is) a whole lot better. Not everybody's too spent. Now you got a spare for each group and everybody rotates."

Brandon joins a defensive tackle group that has gone from sparse to relatively deep in the last few months. Missouri brought in six players at the position in the 2018 class, though Malik Young going to make it and Akial Byers is playing more defensive end than tackle.

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