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Let’s preview Linebackers: Could Ty’Ron Hopper be an All-SEC Linebacker?

It’s time to take take a look at the least talked about group on defense.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Arkansas at Missouri Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s fall camp time! As your Missouri football Tigers begin their fall practices to get ready for the season, Rock M Nation will begin going through each position to take stock of the depth and project the position for the season.

Today we look at the defensive position group with the oldest, most proven starters: the linebackers.

The Returning Starters

Vanderbilt v Missouri Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images
Ty’Ron Hopper & Chad Bailey Stats

Ty’Ron Hopper transferred in from Florida last year and immediately made an impact as Missouri’s starting weakside linebacker, leading the team in havoc plays. Chad Bailey is a former blue chipper who finally managed to stay healthy and crack the rotation in ‘21, only to become Mizzou’s permanent starting inside linebacker for ‘22.

The Backups

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 01 Georgia at Missouri
Backup linebacker stats

Dameon Wilson saw snaps as the primary (and, truthfully, only) backup last year but was a clear step down from the two starters. Chuck Hicks and Xavier Simmons missed most of last year with various injuries. Will Norris murdered Kentucky’s punter and got a rule change for his efforts. Carmycah Glass took a redshirt year and didn’t see the field. Triston Newson is a JUCO transfer who’s made a big impact since he showed up on campus in the spring.

The Freshman


Brayshawn Littlejohn is the lone freshman addition to the linebacking corps. While he showed a lot of flash at the high school ranks there are enough talented, experienced guys ahead of him for two spots that there’s a strong possibility he takes a redshirt year.

BK’s Breakdown:

You know what’s really fun? Doing these previews for the back seven of Missouri’s defense. It allows you to dream a little, because the talent is not hard to find.

This time last year, that was not the case. There were questions galore. Transfers trying to earn roles. Young players hoping to make a leap. Hope remained. Certainty was hard to find.

This time around, that hope still exists (to an even greater degree), but the certainty that exists with returning players is on a different level. For the linebackers, that starts with the play of former Florida transfer Ty’Ron Hopper. The former Gator immediately made his presence felt within the Tigers’ defense.

Let’s go through the list of SEC linebackers in the past 20 years to produce as many tackles (77), tackles for loss (13.5), sacks (2.5) and pass deflections (4) as Ty’Ron Hopper put up in 2022:

  • Drew Sanders, Arkansas (2022)
  • Josh Allen, Kentucky (2018)
  • Jordan Jones, Kentucky (2016)
  • Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee (2015)
  • Jarvis Jones, Georgia (2012)
  • Kevin Minter, LSU (2012)
  • Rolando McClain, Alabama (2009)
  • Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina (2006)

That is, more or less, a “who’s who” of SEC linebackers of the last 20 years. The only player on that list who was not selected in the NFL Draft was Jordan Jones.

Hopper’s running mate, Chad Bailey, has been dealing with some nagging injuries throughout fall camp. This comes after Bailey was suspended from the team in the spring after he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in Columbia.

That could result in the depth of the group being tested. Thankfully, there are some options that inspire confidence. The buzz on JUCO transfer Tristan Newson has been palpable throughout fall camp. He’s someone who could factor into the third down blitz packages, specifically. Dameon Wilson has seen the majority of the starting reps this fall in place of Bailey. Former Wyoming transfer Chuck Hicks will certainly see some reps here and there, as well.

The biggest test for this group will be consistency, specifically against the run. The group of linebackers built more for length and athleticism than it is bulk and run defense. That’s certainly preferable for modern football, but it can leave you a bit light in the box on short-yardage situations, or against dominant running games like Kansas State. Taking a step forward with their run fits would be the final key to unlocking the full potential of Missouri’s linebackers in 2023.