I’m convinced Missouri has unlimited scholarships for its defensive line room. It’s the only explanation for the turnover we’ve seen this offseason.
The Tigers have added Tyrone Hopper (North Carolina), D.J. Coleman (Jacksonville State), Jayden Jernigan (Oklahoma State), Ian Mathews (Auburn), Jalen Marshall (HS), Marquis Gracial (HS) and DJ Wesolak (HS) since the end of last season.
You can now add Josh Landry’s name to that list. The former 4-star weakside defensive end spent the past three years bulking up from 250 to 285 pounds at Baylor. He did so while not seeing a ton of playing time, and decided it was time to look for a new destination. According to Nate Edwards’ write-up, Landry has played just over 300 snaps in nine total games over his three years in Waco. He produced 12 tackles, 3 tackles-for-loss and two sacks.
Landry, along with Jernigan, Marshall and Gracial, certainly join the roster to fill a need. The Tigers are looking to replace Kobie Whiteside, Akial Byers and Mekhi Wingo. That opens up plenty of snaps along the interior, and Landry looks like a player ready to see a good share of them.
Where he fits: Landry doesn’t have a lot of film from his time Baylor, but his “career game” came in 2020 against Oklahoma. He spent the vast majority of his time lined up head-up on the center, essentially serving as a nose tackle. That is not the best use of his ability. His splash plays seemed to take place on the rare occasions in which he was lined up as a defensive end or when he was utilized in a stunt to the outside.
My expectation would be he’ll line up mostly as a “3-technique” defensive tackle at Missouri. That means he’ll line up on the outside shoulder of the offensive guard, allowing him to penetrate upfield as either a pass rusher or a disruptive force against the run.
The other defensive linemen currently on the roster who fit into that criteria are Darius Robinson, Jayden Jernigan, Marquis Gracial and, possibly, Kyran Montgomery.
When he’ll play: Right away. A former 4-star recruit who got some playing time for a top 15 defense in the country can help Missouri’s defense. How much he’ll play is up for debate, but when he’ll play very much is not.
The rotation along the interior likely starts with Darius Robinson, Jayden Jernigan, Realus George and Josh Landry. Ian Mathews, Kyran Montgomery, Jalen Marshall and Marquis Gracial will battle for the remaining snaps. Trajan Jeffcoat and Isaiah McGuire can also kick inside on obvious passing downs to add some pass rushing juice to the defensive line.
What it all means: The Tigers had an obvious emphasis on adding as much proven talent to the defensive line as possible this offseason. They’ve accomplished that goal, and it seems like they might not be done yet as 2022 JUCO defensive tackle Taylor Lewis is expected to visit Mizzou at the end of the month.
There are plenty of position battles worth monitoring going into fall camp. It will be interesting to see how many - if any - of the 2021 defensive line commits (Arden Walker, Daniel Robledo, Jonathan Jones, Travion Ford, Montgomery) can carve out a role given with so many veterans being added to what was already a crowded room.