It’s been quite the decade from Mizzou football. From the 2010 Homecoming win over Oklahoma to back-to-back SEC East titles to, well, the rest of the decade; we’ve seen plenty of ups and downs at ‘ole Mizzou.
But this is about the good. It’s time to celebrate the good. If you haven’t done so already, I would highly recommend checking out our series on the top Tigers of the decade. Mizzou has been stocked full of tremendous athletes over the years. But today, I want to focus on the football team. Last week we went through the offense.
Today, it’s the defense’s turn to take center stage.
DE: Markus Golden (2012-2014) & Shane Ray (2012-2014)
The best defensive end duo I’ve ever seen combine to make my top two Mizzou defensive ends this decade. The two combined for 33.5 sacks, 64 tackles for loss and 9 forced fumbles in 2013-2014. They were part of the identity of the two best Mizzou football teams this decade, and they headline the defensive portion of the All-Decade team.
Honorable Mention: Michael Sam (2010-2013) & Charles Harris (2014-2016)
DT: Sheldon Richardson (2011-2012) & Terry Beckner, Jr. (2015-2018)
The two best Mizzou defensive tackle recruits this decade are also, for my money, the two best Mizzou defensive tackles of this decade. Richardson’s numbers don’t blow you away with just 18.5 tackles for loss & 6 sacks over two years in Columbia, but that doesn’t tell the full story. This is one of those instances in which anyone who watched Big Shel could tell you he was among the most dominant players we’ve seen play in a Mizzou uniform.
Beckner wasn’t that good, but he was a great player in his own right. Injuries sapped some of the explosiveness we saw from him early in his tenure at Mizzou, but Beckner was still able to finish his career with a whopping 32 tackles for loss & 13.5 sacks.
Honorable Mention: Harold Brantley (2013-2015) & Jordan Elliott (2016-2019)
OLB: Kentrell Brothers & Terez Hall
Brothers was the obvious choice here. His 2015 season was probably the best full season by a Mizzou defender that I saw while I covered the team back in 2013. He finished that season with a mind-blowing 152 tackles, 12 of which were behind the line of scrimmage. He had a knack of knowing where the play was going before the offense seemed to know where it would end up.
Hall was a different player entirely. He made mistakes. He wasn’t always in the right place at the right time. But when he was, he was an absolute nightmare for the opposition. A hard-hitting, sideline-to-sideline athlete with an intention of putting the hurt on the offense will go down as one of my favorite players to watch this decade.
Honorable Mention: Zaviar Gooden (2009-2012) & Nick Bolton (2018-2019)
MLB: Cale Garrett (2016-2019)
The football gods robbed us this year of watching a season that could have been on par with what we saw from Brothers back in 2015. Garrett was making the same kinds of plays that Brothers did that year. The offense had to know where he was at all times. I would imagine that was a difficult task, because there were times when it seemed like there were 12 Cale Garretts on the field at all times.
Honorable Mention: Michael Scherer (2013-2016)
CB: EJ Gaines (2010-2013) & DeMarkus Acy (2016-2019)
Gaines is the no-doubt clear-cut answer for the best Mizzou corner this decade. Choosing the second best was a little more difficult. Where Gaines dominated from start to finish in his time as a Tiger, others struggled to start before they found their groove later on.
That’s how I settled on Acy. He took his lumps early in his career, but by the end of his time at Mizzou, Acy was considered to be one of the better cover corners in the SEC.
Honorable Mention: Aarion Penton (2013-2016)
S: Braylon Webb (2011-2014 & Ian Simon (2012-2015)
The weakest position for Mizzou this decade is probably safety. The Tigers had legitimate standouts at every other position on the defensive side of the ball, but Mizzou had solid yet unspectacular play at safety more often than not.
Solid is the word I would use to describe Webb. He was always in the right place at the right time. He was a natural leader on the back end of the defense. And he made some plays, too, finishing with 7 total interceptions in his last two years.
Simon was the starting safety for a 2014 defense that willed Mizzou to an SEC East title. For that, I gave him the nod over Sherrils and Gillespie. He, like Webb, was a tremendous leader and finished his career as one of my favorite guys to talk with in the locker room.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Sherrils (2014-2017) & Tyree Gillespie (2017-2019)