An era of Missouri Tigers football is quickly coming to an end.
Mizzou celebrated Senior Day on Saturday and sent the latest generation of Tigers to the infamous Rock M to take a piece of Mizzou history with them.
“That was the main goal this week to get the seniors their rocks,” wide receiver Luther Burden III said.
The sendoff featured a 45-14 victory over the New Mexico State Aggies, who entered as a fellow four-win program in search of a season-defining memory. Instead, the Tigers left the taste of victory in Columbia ahead of a pivotal Battle Line rivalry game against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Arkansas, who clinched a bowl berth with a 42-27 victory over No. 14 Ole Miss, will look to deny the Mizzou seniors of one final bowl game Friday afternoon. An opportunity to play in a season-deciding game, however, would not have come for the Tigers without the Senior Day victory, which featured high-level performances from those of Mizzou’s past and future.
Banister, fellow seniors light up Farout Field for their final Saturday
The Tigers honored 22 seniors before Saturday’s game, each with their own story and Mizzou history.
Perhaps one of the more memorable of these journeys comes in the form of graduate wide receiver Barrett Banister, who has called Columbia home for the past six seasons. Banister, a native of Fayetteville, Arkansas, has become a fan-favorite with the Tigers while also becoming one of the most-reliable receivers, especially on third and fourth downs.
“That’s just chemistry,” quarterback Brady Cook said. “(I’m) super excited for him. I really wanted to get him to 100 (receiving yards).”
In true storybook fashion, the receiver saved his career-best performance for one of his last games. Banister caught seven passes for a career-high 91 yards, including a key fourth down reception in the first quarter and notched two third down receptions in the second quarter. If not for a fourth quarter penalty that nullified a 23-yard gain, Banister would’ve finished with his first 100-yard game.
The fun-filled evening did come to an end for Banister in the fourth quarter when a pass from freshman quarterback Sam Horn led the veteran receiver into an opposing player, knocking him to the ground. He was helped to the bench afterwards, but Drinkwitz had no update postgame.
Adding to the senior celebration, a quartet of defensive players built upon their legacies with strong performances.
On the defensive line, Darius Robinson and DJ Coleman combined for eight tackles, including three tackles for loss. Coleman’s tackle for loss continued his streak of eight consecutive games with at least .5 tackles for loss, while Robinson tied a season-high with four tackles.
“I think (DJ Coleman) is an example of taking advantage of every opportunity,” Drinkwitz said. “His production while on the field has been really, really good...He’s a guy that’s on a mission right now.”
Linebacker Devin Nicholson also added a season-high five tackles, and added a quarterback hurry in the second quarter that forced New Mexico State into a third-and-long. Defensive back Jalani Williams, meanwhile, grabbed his first career interception in the fourth quarter.
Although their names did not appear in the box score as much— Isaiah McGuire, Martez Manuel, Tauskie Dove, Nathaniel Peat, Trajan Jeffcoat, Connor Wood, Sean Koetting, Jake Hoffman, Tyrone Hopper, Trenton Sederwall, Jack Abraham, Bobby Lawerence, Kibet Chepyator, Richard Taylor, Zeke Powell and DJ Bullard—were honored pregame as well.
For some of these names, a return to Mizzou is possible via the COVID-year waiver. Others will play in their last home game Friday, and begin the passing of the torch to the next generation of Tigers.
Burden, Carnell among freshmen prepared to lead the next generation of Tigers
Amidst the Senior Day celebration, a few faces representing the future of the Missouri Tigers football program provided a glimpse of what the coming years could look like.
Luther Burden III caught three passes for 35 yards and two touchdowns, utilizing his explosiveness in the open field to showcase what Mizzou fans can expect going forward. The true freshman receiver has scored eight total touchdowns this season, but knows he can make a greater impact.
“I honestly felt I could’ve done better, but I mean eight touchdowns is cool,” Burden said.
Burden’s high-energy personality is one that will bode well going into next season, especially considering he will become one of the team’s leaders with the departures of Tauskie Dove and Barrett Banister from the wide receiver room.
“(Dove and Banister are) trying to put me in a leader role because when they’re gone, I’m going to have to step up next year and take control,” Burden said.
Defensive back Daylan Carnell is facing a similar situation following Martez Manuel’s decision to move on from Mizzou football after the season. The redshirt freshman has played under Manuel’s wing in the reformed Tigers’ defense, showing he may have what it takes to capture the “STAR” position next year.
Carnell, who forced a pass break-up in the second quarter, flashed his athleticism and speed on a 40-yard interception returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“We seen that formation all week in practice,” Carnell said. “As soon as No. 3 (Jamoni Jones) run the slant, ran into No. 2 (Ta’ir Brooks), the ball was there waiting on me.”
Ryan Hoerstkamp added onto the plethora of newcomers with an impactful evening, taking his first-career reception to the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown. His score exhibited what the tight end position may look like in the future, which is a welcome sight to Mizzou fans who question the position’s usefulness in the offense.
“There’s a lot of people that talk things and say things,” Hoerstkamp said. “We know what we can do.”
The blowout victory allowed several freshman to take the field, including the highly-touted Sam Horn, who played one series. Drinkwitz said many of these players did not take the opportunity for what it was worth, emphasizing that more work will need to be done with the class.
For the most part, however, those who did take the field provided a glimmer of hope for the future. Alongside the continued emergence of names like Cody Schrader, Kris Abrams-Draine, Brady Cook and Jaylon Carlies, it’s safe to say that Mizzou has a core built of past, present and future Tigers that’ll test Arkansas on Friday.