Missouri is going to fix its defensive line come hell or high water. There is no position the Tigers have thrown more numbers at since Eli Drinkwitz arrived on campus than the defensive line. That includes attempting to fix the problem by adding high school recruits, JUCO transfers, G5 transfers and P5 transfers. If you can play defensive line, there’s a good chance Drinkwitz and his coaching staff has scouted you.
The group finally came together last year, and the early returns are positive again in 2023. The goal is now to stack some talent behind the current crop of defensive linemen in order to avoid a situation like the Tigers had in the early portion of the Drinkwitz era when the defensive line talent was at a serious deficit. Trying to play catch up at such a premium position is a hard game to play.
In order to stay ahead of it, Missouri is planning for the future. The Tigers landed their first commit of the 2025 class by way of 4-star defensive end (can we just go ahead and call him a defensive tackle?) prospect Julian (Juju) Marks. The Overland Park native was a high school teammate of current Mizzou defensive lineman Jalen Marshall. Here’s to hoping the two can dominate along the interior for the Tigers in the future.
Marks is the latest in a long line of high school defensive linemen the Tigers have added since Drinkwitz arrived. Let’s take a look back at how the additions have performed since arriving on campus, shall we?
- DE Johnny Walker Jr. (390 Snaps, Current Starter)
- DT Montra Edwards (0 Snaps, Transferred)
- DE Benjamin Key (12 Snaps, Transferred)
- DT Dylan Spencer (0 Snaps, Transferred)
- DT Kyran Montgomery (0 Snaps, Current Backup)
- DT Realus George (505 Snaps, Current Starter)
- DE Arden Walker (200 Snaps, Transferred)
- DE Daniel Robledo (18 Snaps, Transferred)
- DE Jonathan Jones (0 Snaps, Transferred)
- DE Travion Ford (14 Snaps, Transferred)
- DT Mekhi Wingo (456 Snaps, Transferred)
- DE DJ Wesolak (0 Snaps, Current Backup)
- DT Jalen Marshall (5 Snaps, Current Backup)
- DT Marquis Gracial (7 Snaps, Current Backup)
- DE Sam Williams (0 Snaps, Current Backup)
- DE Serigne Tounkara (0 Snaps, Current Backup)
- DE Jahkai Lang (0 Snaps, Current Backup)
- DE Elias Williams
- DE Jaylen Brown
- DE Williams Nwaneri
- DT Justin Bodford
- DT Julian Marks
Okay, yeah, that’s a lot of names; 22 to be exact. Of those 22 additions, nine are currently on campus with another four slated to join them next year. And now, Marks. Missouri’s coaching staff has continually thrown numbers at the problem. They seem to be throwing more size at the problem lately, too, Let’s dive more into that.
Where he fits: Well, this is the first interesting piece to Marks’ commitment. The gentleman is huge. He’s listed at 6-foot-8 and 275 pounds as a high school junior. Pretty large! Typically, I would say he’s bound to kick inside to defensive tackle. And, frankly, I still think that’s true with Marks. But he’s not the first large defensive end the Tigers have added in recent years.
Missouri’s defensive ends in the 2023 last class: 6-foot-4, 265, 6-foot-3, 240 and 6-foot-3, 240.
Missouri’s defensive ends in the 2024 class: 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, 6-foot-6, 265 pounds.
Julian Marks’ listed size as the first commit in the 2025 class: 6-foot-8, 275 pounds.
Noticing a trend? Blake Baker likes to have defensive ends who can hold up against the run while also winning with power off the edge in pass rush situations. Think about what Mizzou had last year in DJ Coleman and Isaiah McGuire. That’s what an ideal Missouri defensive end should look like. That being said, I still expect Marks to kick inside eventually. He’s going to put on even more weight in a college football program. He should be one heck of an interior disruptor.
When he’ll play: Ask Marquis Gracial and Jalen Marshall. It could take some time. Missouri has done a good job (maybe too good) of adding depth along the interior. The Tigers have so many interior players that they moved one (Darius Robinson) to the edge in order to get them all on the field more often. A lot of that will be resolved due to natural attrition and graduation, but I don’t expect Drinkwitz to suddenly stop adding transfers at such a critical position to Baker’s defense. If history is any indication, it could be a while before we see Marks playing significant snaps at Missouri.
What it all means: Missouri added another big and talented body to the interior of its defensive line. This is good! The Tigers also kicked off the 2025 recruiting class with a bang. The win against Kansas State certainly helped fans dream a little about the on-field product, and it’s good to see Drinkwitz capitalize on such a big win with the addition of Kansas’ top 2025 recruit.