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Missouri’s Trystan Castillo and Jordan Ulmer are the good kind of freshman starter stories

Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

Mizzou’s first 2017 depth chart was a fun mix of new and old. True sophomore Markell Utsey won the battle royal at nose tackle, career backup Logan Cheadle finally gets his shot in the starting lineup, old hand Jason Reese starts out ahead of both junior Kendall Blanton and redshirt freshman Albert Okwuegbunam, etc.

But the newest of the new are the two freshmen in the starting lineup: center Trystan Castillo and safety Jordan Ulmer. When players this young crack the first string, it could be reason for either optimism or pessimism; I’m leaning former with both because they both beat out some pretty experienced options for their starting spot.

We know the baseline level of quality that players like Adam Ploudre, Samson Bailey, and Alec Abeln (all of whom have starting experience at center) bring on offense and Thomas Wilson, Cam Hilton, and Ronnell Perkins (all of whom have starting experience at safety) bring on defense. None were all-world performers — if they were, they’d be starting — but there’s a reasonably high floor involved there. That Castillo and Ulmer beat this group of players out suggests a pretty high ceiling as well.

Castillo, a Webb City native, knows of a pretty good career to emulate.

“In Webb City, I think Adam Spieker is the guy all linemen are measured against,” [20th-year Webb City head coach John] Roderique said. ... Castillo “reminded us a lot of Speiker in the fact that he liked to put people on their back. He wasn’t finished until he was laying on top of somebody.”

Spieker wasn’t just a high school standout. The freshman All-American, two-time all-Big 12 honoree and Rimington Award finalist was the anchor for some of Missouri’s best offenses ever, bridging the gap between Brad Smith’s senior year and the first three seasons of Chase Daniel’s tenure.

Ulmer, meanwhile, underwent all the stress tests the coaching staff could throw at him and passed each one.

“He’s got maybe a little better feel for the game than I thought he would and has not, up to this point, really put himself in a stress situation in coverage,” [Barry] Odom said. “He’s always kind of been in control and I like his demeanor. I like the way he plays — really, really physical.” [...]

Hilton and Wilson also will play alongside Sherrils and Perkins, but Ulmer’s been the training camp revelation.

“He graded out the highest in the (defensive backs) room both scrimmages,” [DBs coach Ryan] Walters said. He’s been the most consistent, so he deserves it.”

It always sounded like Ulmer, a rather low-three-star recruit per 247, was on the cusp of breaking through with high-major offers from a school like Michigan. But Mizzou had long honed in on the rangy safety and managed to land a signature coaches seemed pretty excited about. And now Mizzou fans can be excited, too.

Of course, if Vegas bets are any indication, Mizzou fans are already pretty excited:

More Links:

  • One game, one local player-of-the-week award for Mizzou commit James Foster II.
  • NEW PAPN! Godfrey and I look at Week 1’s must-watch college football games. (And no, Missouri State-Mizzou didn’t quite make the list.) And evidently Florida suspended two more guys and named a starting QB as I was talking about how Florida’s suspensions weren’t that worrisome and that I was far more concerned about how they hadn’t named a starting QB.