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Blaze Alldredge is ready for the spotlight

Alldredge has always produced at a high level. There’s no reason to expect anything less in his first season in the SEC.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 05 Rice at UAB Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Blaze Alldredge is the type of story Mizzou fans can appreciate. An under-recruited and unheralded recruit out of high school, Alldredge had to earn everything the hard way. He moved across the country from Orlando to Los Angeles to attend a more prominent junior college in order to earn exposure, and hopefully more FBS scholarship offers.

It worked. Alldredge garnered enough attention to earn offers from multiple FBS programs, including Rice, after just one full season in JUCO. He moved to Houston, and his presence was felt quickly.

Alldredge saw the field as a sophomore, but broke out as a junior in 2019. He racked up more than 100 tackles, more than 20 tackles for loss and added four sacks, for good measure. It was enough to earn him first-team All-Conference USA honors. It put him on every watch list you could ask for, including the Butkus Award watch list, presented to the nation’s best linebacker, prior to the 2020 season.

That season, of course, was cut short. Rice played just five games due to COVID-19. Alldredge once again put up impressive numbers in the limited playing time, earning him a second-straight season as an all-conference player.

But he wanted more.

Alldredge wanted to win. And he wanted to test his abilities against the best of the best. The COVID-19 season allowed him the opportunity to do exactly that. Nick Bolton’s departure to the NFL opened up a spot in the middle of the Tigers’ defense, and Alldredge wanted to be the man to fill it.

Those are big shoes to fill. The reality is nobody - not Alldredge, nor any other linebacker in the country, frankly - could fill it. Bolton will go down as one of the best linebackers in Mizzou football history. Comparing Alldredge to Bolton is a faulty exercise.

Thankfully, it doesn’t sound like Alldredge is putting that kind of pressure on himself. Speaking to the media, Eli Drinkwitz has mentioned Alldredge is comfortable in his own skin, and he’s not trying to be anything more.

It’s more than that, though. Alldredge has clearly made an impression on the program in a very short amount of time. Drinkwitz announced earlier this week that Alldredge will wear the number 25 this season, honoring the late Aaron O’Neal.

“It just went to who’s a guy that can carry on the legacy and tradition of Aaron O’Neal, and who’s a guy he would be proud of wearing that number,” Drinkwitz said. “And Blaze has come in and done a really nice job within the defense, within the team, representing the right way, having the right character and makeup. Plays his butt off every single play, and it’s somebody that we’ll all be proud of representing number 25.”

There might not be a higher honor within the Missouri football program than wearing the number 25. Earning such a distinction within months of arriving on campus is noteworthy. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is who Alldredge is, it’s who he’s always been.

Alldredge is ready for the spotlight.