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When we posed the question who was the best Missouri player so far this season, a lot of you voted. When I was asked the same question, it took all of two seconds to come to the conclusion. It’s Hopper, and I’m not sure there’s a close second. Ty’Ron Hopper is already putting together one of the most productive seasons by a Missouri linebacker in he last 15 years. He’s done so through four games.
This isn’t a shot at Dominic Lovett or Luther Burden or anyone else you would like to throw into the mix. There are plenty of candidates for such a list. But Hopper, for me, takes the cake. It would seem that 51% of you would agree with me.
Hopper has already produced 23 solo tackles, seven tackles for loss, two sacks and an interception. According to Pro Football Focus, Hopper leads Missouri in sacks (2), quarterback hurries (7) and pass rush win rate (36 percent). His seven quarterback hurries are third among power five linebackers (behind Drew Sanders, Arkansas and Ryan Smenda Jr., Wake Forest).
#Mizzou LB Ty'Ron Hopper is off to quite a start. He's currently 2nd in the SEC in solo TKL (23), 2nd in TFL (7.0) & T10th in sacks (2.0).— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) September 27, 2022
The only other Mizzou LBs in the last 15 yrs to post 20+ solo TKL, 7 TFL & 2 sacks *in a season* were Hall, Brothers, Zavier & Spoon (x2). pic.twitter.com/uzcpGDWMo4
Those are the quantitative reasons why Hopper would be my choice. There are also plenty of qualitative explanations. Have you watched Hopper? I mean, REALLY watched Hopper? He’s unbelievable! Sure, there are some missed tackles from time to time. But he can do everything.
My podcast co-host Nate Edwards has mentioned a number of times that this Missouri defense seems to go into games like a boxer goes into the ring. They dance around for about a quarter before figuring out what the opposition is trying to do, and then they pounce. Hopper is a huge chess piece in those game plans.
If Missouri can’t get home its four defensive linemen, Hopper serves as an extra pass rusher. If they need another linebacker to drop in coverage, he has the speed and coverage ability to serve in that capacity. If they need someone to spy the quarterback (as they did against Auburn), he’s the man for the job. Need to fill the gap against a dominant rushing attack? Guess what, that’s Hopper’s job, too.
Some of Hopper's highlights against Auburn - especially as a spy on the QB - were nutty. pic.twitter.com/WxuCFwPNgY— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) September 28, 2022
He can do it all. He has done it all.
If all goes according to plan, I think he will join Nick Bolton, Kentrell Brothers and Sean Weatherspoon as the Mount Rushmore of Missouri linebackers over the past 15 years.
This Missouri season hasn’t gone according to plan, but it’s been quite the showcase for Ty’Ron Hopper.
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