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A way-too-early 2019 Missouri defensive depth chart

We projected the offense on Wednesday, so we’d have to be real sadists to not project the defense today.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 15 Missouri at Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Wednesday, we took a way-too-early look at Missouri’s 2019 offensive depth chart, so it only makes sense that we’d turn our attention to the defensive side of the ball today.

As a reminder, we’re going under first-depth-chart-of-the-season rules, which means no true freshmen. They’ll have to earn their way onto this holy list.

Here’s what the defense should look like. Bold/italics specify a projected new starter.

Defensive line

Defensive end

  1. JR Akial Byers (6-4, 280-pounds)
  2. SO Trajan Jeffcoat (6-3, 245-pounds)

Defensive tackle

  1. JR Kobie Whiteside (6-1, 310-pounds)
  2. R-JR Antar Thompson (6-5, 300-pounds)

Nose guard

  1. R-JR Jordan Elliott (6-4, 315-pounds)
  2. SR Markell Utsey (6-4, 295-pounds)

Defensive tackle

  1. JR Chris Turner (6-4, 255-pounds)
  2. SO Jatarion Hansford (6-4, 245-pounds)

NOTES: How does Missouri replace Terry Beckner and Walter Palmore? Hopefully, Jordan Elliott is ready to be The Man, and then a rotation with Whiteside, Utsey (who appeared in just three games this year so might be a redshirt junior), Thompson and others competing for time in a crowded if unproven position group.

At defensive end, the two bowl game starters return in Byers and Turner. Jeffcoat and Hansford both saw time as freshmen and should get a more extended audition. Based on the allegations against Tre Williams, we’re leaving him off the roster for these projections.



  1. SO Nick Bolton (6-0, 235-pounds)
  2. R-FR Cameron Wilkins (6-2, 245-pounds)


  1. SR Cale Garrett (6-3, 230-pounds)
  2. JR Jamal Brooks (6-1, 240-pounds)


  1. R-SR Ronnell Perkins (6-0, 205-pounds)
  2. JR Aubrey Miller (6-2, 225-pounds)

NOTES: The starters seem set, with Bolton taking over for Terez Hall. Cale Garrett and Ronnell Perkins return, so you can sharpie their names in. The back-ups seem a bit more unsettled, and guys will likely move between the three positions. I’m giving redshirt freshman Wilkins the nod at back-up weakside, as he was the scout team defensive player of the year — a good sign to get a long look at playing time this year. The back-up SAM spot is (shruggie emoji), so let’s go with Aubrey Milley — although freshmen Aidan Harrison and Devin Nicholson should be newcomers to watch there.

Defensive backs


  1. R-JR Christian Holmes (6-1, 200)
  2. JR Adam Sparks (6-0, 180)

Free safety

  1. JR Joshuah Bledsoe (6-0, 205-pounds)
  2. FR Jalani Williams (6-2, 170-pounds)

Strong safety

  1. JR Tyree Gillespie (6-0, 210-pounds)
  2. R-SR Khalil Oliver (6-1, 210-pounds)


  1. SR DeMarkus Acy (6-2, 195-pounds)
  2. SO Jarvis Ware (6-1, 190-pounds)

NOTES: For better or worse, Missouri’s defensive backfield seems pretty set, doesn’t it? Missouri loses one key contributor from 2018 (Cam Hilton) at safety, but Gillespie, Oliver and Bledsoe all played extensively this season — that will continue in 2019. Same thing at cornerback, where Missouri doesn’t lose any key contributor but will still have to figure out the back-ups. At this point, I’m giving Ware the nod over Terry Petry, who struggled in limited duty this season.

A key race to watch will be for a back-up safety position, as Missouri is short on bodies and has to hope that four-star freshman Jalani Williams is ready to play from the get-go.