Whether it’s Aldon Smith, Michael Sam, Markus Golden, or the litany of other edge rushers that have worn the black and gold recently, the Missouri Tigers have a history of producing talented pass rushers. In keeping with that tradition, the Tigers secured a number of talented players at the position in their 2021 recruiting class, so let’s talk about them and what they could bring to Columbia.
Ford is by far the biggest name with the most hype out of this recruiting class. The St. Louis Lutheran North product was a consensus 4-star and most had him as the Tigers' top recruit. With hype like that, many are expecting big things from Ford, and the good news for Tigers fans is it looks like the talent validates the hype.
@MizzouFootball #NewZou #NewZou21 #Mizzou pic.twitter.com/4fEABSxFl2— Travion Ford ® (@Tre_Got_Skills) December 7, 2020
Ford is a devastating combination of speed and strength, and he lives in the opponent's backfield. That combination of skills is essential to be an SEC pass rusher, but as of right now, his size is the only question mark. For Ford it’s not a question of if he needs to gain or lose weight, but rather which he wants to do. If Steve Wilks and Co. see him as more of an OLB then Ford would need to drop a few pounds, but if he wants to be a DE, then Ford would need to gain a few pounds.
Nevertheless, the bottom line is Travion Ford projects to be a major impact player for the Tigers. Whether it’s this year or next year is to be determined, but Ford’s ability gives him a great chance to add to the great history of Tiger pass rushers.
Montgomery is the second biggest name of this group. Another 4-star according to Rivals, the Indianapolis product measures 6’4 and 251 lbs. He wasn’t quite as touted out of high school as his counterpart Ford was, but provides a different style of pass rusher to Ford.
While Ford’s speed was one of key traits, Montgomery isn’t quite as fast, but possesses just as much strength if not more. He also is very tenacious in his pursuit of the football. In his film, he attacks the ball with aggression that borders on violence every play, and for a guy that doesn't have great speed, his motor is very good.
If Montgomery can add some pounds, his traits project him to be an impact DE for the Tigers in the future, or maybe even sooner, who knows.
Walker is another physical specimen at 6’4 and 240 lbs. He chose the Tigers over his home-state Colorado Buffalos and UCLA. He attended Colorado powerhouse Cherry Creek for high school, and was a multi sport athlete starring on the basketball court as well.
Walker’s athleticism from being a multi-sport athlete is visible in his play. He is an athletic freak and flys to the football for a DE. In terms of raw athletic gifts, Walker ranks with the best of this group of Tigers, and that makes his ceiling an exciting thought. The aggression with which he plays never disappoints and anytime you have a player with his size that can run like he does you never know just how good he can be.
A JUCO transfer from East Los Angeles Community College, Robledo is the elder of this group. He measures in at 6’5 and 280 lbs, giving him the most SEC-ready size of anyone, but that’s to be expected with college experience, albeit if it was at the JUCO level. Among JUCO products, Robledo was ranked as the No. 10 overall player and No. 2 DE.
From his tape, it’s clear Robledo is not the athlete that some of his younger counterparts are. However, his size allows him to cover a lot of ground, and like Montgomery has a great motor for a player of his stature.
While his ceiling might not be the highest, Robledo probably has the highest floor and could make the biggest impact of all these players in the 2021 season. He seems to have the size that will prevent him from being bullied by SEC O-Lines, and could be a great addition of depth to a D-Line that was very thin at time last season.
A 3-star recruit from McKinney, Texas, Jones is the smallest of this group at 6’4 and 230 lbs. He wasn’t the most highly recruited player coming out of high school, but did hold offers from schools like Texas and Arizona State. However, in a state like Texas, it’s easy for a player to fall through the cracks.
The tape for Jones doesn’t wow you. He doesn't overpower opposing linemen or run right by them, but he still finds his way in the backfield to make impact plays. The main thing that does stand out about Jones is the fire with which he plays with. His excitement for the game and competitiveness is palpable in his film, and that’s a trait that you can’t teach.
It’s incredibly unlikely that Jones will see the field this year because of how undersized he is in the SEC, but his future in the black and gold is something to keep a look out for.