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Which Mizzou players are using their extra year of eligibility?

Tracking which players are coming back for one more year at the Zou.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

This will be a running list of players who are returning to Missouri for one more season due to the extra year of eligibility granted to all players during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Conversely, it will also be a running list of players who forego their extra eligibility to enter the NFL draft or, in some cases, move on with their post-football lives. We’ll keep them in chronological order with updates as soon as we get them.

Ty’Ron Hopper, Senior - Declaring for NFL Draft

NCAA Football: Missouri at Vanderbilt Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

One of the first big portal additions of the Eli Drinkwitz era, Ty’Ron Hopper epitomized former defensive coordinator Blake Baker’s defensive ideals: be fast and get to the quarterback. Coming to Columbia as one of the most exciting young linebackers in the conference, Hopper logged 132 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 7 defended passes, an interception, a forced fumble and countless hurries during his time as a Tiger. He’ll be tough to replace as a havoc-inducing playmaker in the middle of the defense. Hopper will forego his one remaining year of eligibility.

Godspeed, Mr. Hopper!

Harrison Mevis, Senior - Declaring for NFL Draft

NCAA Football: Florida at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

What is there to say that we haven’t already said about the Thiccer? Other than, of course, the fact that his nationally-recognized nickname was coined by our very own Nate Edwards.

Mevis leaves Mizzou’s program as its all-time leading scorer, but that’s far from the whole story. Mevis was a weapon in the special teams game, only missing one extra point in his entire career (on a bad snap) and uncorking the SEC’s longest field goal ever in a clutch moment against Kansas State. Sure, his percentage dipped a little in his junior and senior seasons. But the Thiccer never backed down from a challenge — hell, he was going to attempt a 65-yarder against Ohio State before a delay of game penalty knocked him back. It seems impossible that we’ll have to watch a Mizzou game next season with Mevis coming into to boot the ball, but we’ll always have the memories. He’ll forego his final year of eligibility to pursue an opportunity in the NFL.

Godspeed, Mr. Mevis!

Jayden Jernigan, Redshirt Senior - Declaring for NFL Draft

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 08 Missouri at Florida Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The former Oklahoma State defensive tackle transferred to Mizzou ahead of the 2022 season and immediately became an integral part of the defensive line rotation. Jernigan appeared in 25 games for the Tigers, totaling 32 tackles and 2.5 sacks, as well as a fumble recovery and a touchdown and one forced fumble in his final season. He will forego his final year of eligibility. Godspeed, Mr. Jernigan!

Theo Wease, Jr., Senior - Coming Back

Goodyear Cotton Bowl - Missouri v Ohio State Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

One of the biggest questions of the offseason was if Theo Wease, Jr. would come back to give Brady Cook his full arsenal of receivers again in 2024. Now we know the answer: yes.

A senior transfer from Oklahoma, Wease had a career year in his first season as a Tiger, putting up career highs in yards (682), receptions (49), and touchdowns (6). He delivered on the promise of a red-zone threat and gave defenses nightmares when they decided to double Luther Burden III in coverage. He also made arguably the biggest offensive play of the game in Mizzou’s Cotton Bowl victory, snagging a key over-the-shoulder catch that opened up the defense on a free play from scrimmage. His return means himself, Burden and Mookie Cooper will all be back in 2024. Wease has one more year of eligibility.

Kris Abrams-Draine, Junior - Declaring for NFL Draft

LSU v Missouri Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

A four-year Tiger, KAD went from a high three-star wide receiver prospect to one of the country’s best cornerbacks during his time at Mizzou. With Ennis Rakestraw, Abrams-Draine was the lead cover corner in one of the SEC’s most feared secondaries, and he provided the numbers to back up his reputation. Abrams-Draine had a career high 50 tackles in 2023 to go with his 4 interceptions. He ended the year as a Second Team All-American by multiple publications and a First Team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press and the conference’s coaches. He should have no problem finding a home in the NFL.

Godspeed, KAD!

Nyles Gaddy, Senior - Declaring for NFL Draft

Memphis v Missouri Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images

Gaddy was a high-profile addition from Jackson State last offseason, a pure pass-rusher whom the staff hoped would supplement an upgraded defensive line. Gaddy delivered on that promise, providing valuable depth for a line that succeeded at making life miserable for almost every quarterback they faced. Gaddy finished the year with 22 tackles and 4 sacks and will forego his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. Godspeed, Mr. Gaddy!

Jaylon Carlies, Senior - Declaring for NFL Draft

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Goodyear Cotton Bowl - Missouri vs Ohio State Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Carlies, who goes by JC, has been a rock of Mizzou’s secondary for three seasons after joining the program in the 2020 recruiting class, Drinkwitz’s first as Mizzou’s head coach. He popped onto the scene as a sophomore, intercepting 4 passes and forcing a fumble to go along with 67 tackles. He ends his Mizzou career with some eye-popping numbers: 220 tackles, 11.5 tackles-for-loss, three sacks, nine interceptions, nine passes defended, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovered. It was a highly productive spell in Columbia, one that should afford him a good chance at landing on an NFL roster.

Godspeed, Mr. Carlies! Here’s to greener pastures and bigger paychecks!

Ennis Rakestraw, Jr., Junior - Declaring for NFL Draft

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 11 Tennessee at Missouri Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In many ways, Ennis Rakestraw epitomizes the Eli Drinkwitz era (thus far:) a flashy signing who struggled early before turning into an elite player by the end of his time in Columbia.

Rakestraw leaves Mizzou as one of the better corners in program history, totaling 73 tackles and 11 defended passes. He only logged one interception during his time as a Tiger, but that may be due to the fact that defenses stopped throwing at him over the last year and a half.

Godspeed, Mr. Rakestraw! We can’t wait to see where you end up!

Mookie Cooper, Junior - Coming Back

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 07 LSU at Missouri

Mookie Cooper has been a stable presence at wide receiver since arriving from Ohio State after the 2020 season. Cooper has slowly developed into a dependable slot receiver and possession monster, setting career highs in receptions (34) and receiving yards (429) during the 2023 season. Cooper has two more years of eligibility.

Joseph Charleston, Senior - Coming Back

Missouri v Georgia Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Since transferring from Clemson before the 2022 season, Charleston has been a rock of the Tiger defense, amassing 113 total tackles and leading this year’s team with 60. Charleston will return for his COVID-eligibility season.

Chuck Hicks, Graduate Student - Coming Back

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Missouri Kylie Graham-USA TODAY Sports

After transferring to Mizzou as a redshirt senior in 2021, Hicks spent a majority of the 2022 season sidelined with an injury. Hicks played a key reserve role for the 2023 team and will return for his COVID-eligibility season.