A big piece of Missouri’s success on defense last season was the presence of Darius Robinson, Kristian Williams, Josh Landry, Jayden Jernigan and Realus George along the interior of the defensive line. Four of those players are seniors heading into the 2023 season.
Reinforcements are necessary, and the Tigers found one in the form of Justin Bodford. The 3-star defensive tackle from St. Thomas Aquinas announced over the weekend that he was ready to announce his commitment to the University of Missouri. He committed to Mizzou over offers from Georgia Tech, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest and West Virginia, among others.
Bodford is just over 6-foot tall, and weighs in at 295 pounds. He recorded 25 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks during St. Thomas Aquinas’ undefeated season. He is the seventh known commitment for Mizzou’s 2024 class.
Where he fits: Bodford is a pretty easy player to project to the next level. He’s a big, space-eating defensive tackle that will line up as a shaded “nose tackle.” In other words, he’s your Realus George replacement. Much like George, Bodford is surprisingly athletic for his size, and his low center of gravity makes it difficult for opposing offensive linemen to get underneath his pad level.
When he’ll play: Playing at the power five level is a difficult transition for anyone, but especially along the interior of the defensive line. Bodford is a player who will likely need to add a little size and strength before he takes the field for the Tigers.
His position will also make things difficult to get on the field immediately. The Tigers should still have Williams, Ky Montgomery, Jalen Marshall and Marquis Gracial ahead of Bodfrod on the depth chart next season. There’s always a chance the Tigers add some immediate help via the transfer portal, as well.
What it all means: The Tigers added a useful interior defensive lineman from a prestigious high school who should translate relatively quickly to the collegiate level. Bodford should be able to fill the shoes of George within the next couple years as the Tigers’ 1-tech
You can watch Bodford match up against St. John Bosco 3-star offensive guard Matai Jefferson in the first week of the season, a game that will be featured as part of ESPN’s 2023 High School Football kickoff series.