Missouri’s defensive line got quite the overhaul this season with the addition of transfers such as Kristian Williams, D.J. Coleman, Tyrone Hopper, Josh Landry and Jayden Jernigan. Those additions through the portal are vital in a one-year turnaround, but the Tigers’ ability to sustain this revamped D-Line Zou will require reinforcements through high school recruiting.
Jahkai Lang was a good start to this class along the defensive line. The Troy standout pledged his name to the class nearly a full year prior to signing day. You can now add Clear Springs (TX) strongside defensive end Serigne Tounkara to the Tigers’ 2023 recruiting class. The 3-star from the Houston area chose Mizzou over reported offers from Ole Miss and TCU.
109% COMMITTED @MizzouFootball @CoachDrinkwitz @RivalsNick @Perroni247 #MIZ #AGTG pic.twitter.com/7XnKA1LVYe— Serigne Tounkara☪️ (@SerigneT97) October 27, 2022
Where he fits: This is where things get interesting. Much like his future teammate Jahkai Lang, Tounkara is quite a large man for being a high school defensive end. Both are listed at 240 pounds. For context, Missouri’s recent high school defensive end commits with that kind of size are Kyran Montgomery (240 pounds), Arden Walker (248 pounds), Isaiah McGuire (260 pounds), Darius Robinson (255 pounds) and Daniel Parker, Jr. (245 pounds). Montgomery and Robinson eventually transitioned to defensive tackle. Parker moved to tight end. McGuire and Walker remain at defensive end.
Tounkara’s film could provide us some insight into what the plan will be for him at Mizzou. His high school runs a 3-man defensive front with an overhang that shifts along the defensive line as an extra pass rusher in obvious passing situations. In such a scenario, Tounkara shifts inside to line up as a 3-technique in the traditional role of a defensive tackle. I think his future is likely similar to that of McGuire’s. He’ll play outside on standard downs, and kick inside for obvious passing downs.
When he’ll play: Good luck figuring out who will and will not be back along Missouri’s defensive line next season. Tyrone Hopper and D.J. Coleman - best I can tell - are out of eligibility. So, they’ll be gone (we think). Otherwise, you have the following players up in the air: Trajan Jeffcoat, Isaiah McGuire, Realus George, Jayden Jernigan, Josh Landry, Darius Robinson, Daniel Robledo. Will some be back? Sure! Are others likely to leave via the portal or to enter the NFL Draft? Of course! I’ll leave the math up to the staff. They probably have a better idea of which players are likely to stay.
That said, there should be opportunities opening up along the defensive line because it would come as quite a surprise if the team has 18 scholarships tied up in its defensive line again next season. Tounkara probably won’t see the field immediately, but he could work his way into a similar spot to where Marquis Gracial, Jalen Marshall and D.J. Wesolak find themselves currently. They all appear to be on the cusp of the two-deep, with the potential of landing more prominent roles by their second year on campus.
What it all means: Missouri seems to be working from a position of strength with its defensive line for the first time in quite a while. The Tigers have multiple waves of talent arriving at the defensive end position, in particular. What’s more important, however, is the types of defensive ends they appear to be targeting. The Tigers added Hopper and Coleman in the portal for a reason; this defense was in desperate need of some physicality on the edge to play against the run. That’s something Jeffcoat and McGuire bring to the table. It’s also what jumps off the page when you watch both Lang and Tounkara. These are not your classic one-dimensional “bendy” edge rushers. Missouri identified a need, found solutions, and is continuing to add depth to the position.