In our current iteration of football, throwing the ball is the best way for an offense to move and score points.
There are tons of quarterbacks who are well prepared to throw in college offenses, and you can dumb down routes so that a super-fast-and-or-super-tall-guy can make plays without a lot of effort and just a ton of repetition. Plus, penalties associated with throwing the ball (roughing the passer, pass interference, etc.) go for so much more yardage than other penalties that it just makes sense to have an offense featuring the forward pass.
That era might be on the downswing but it’s still the era we are in, so those who throw and catch the ball — QBs, WRs, TEs to a certain extent — and those who are there to stop a successful throw and catch — DEs, CBs — are extremely valuable. Eli Drinkwitz has relied on older players and portal players to fill out his secondary over these past four years. KAD and Rake were home-grown products, but the Tulsa boys of Akayleb Evans and Allie Green Jr. were also used as one-year stop gaps, while Dreyden Norwood and Marcus Clarke have been recent imports to shore up corner depth.
During that time, Drink has brought in a haul of young corners to train up, most recently with Shamar McNeil and Nick DeLoach. And now he’s adding the son of an NFL defensive back to add to the shutdown corner stew that he’s been seasoning for three years.
Say hello to Jaren Sensabaugh!
Where He Fits: Sensabaugh is big enough at the high school level that I’m shocked they didn’t have him at safety. However, you watch 2 minutes of his film and you see why he was at corner: dude has some speed. Even when playing against receivers noticeably shorter than him, he’s able to hang with and/or recover quickly and swat the ball away. Also — if his highlight film is any indication of how he wants to play — the dude likes to hit. Almost 40% of his highlight reel is some version of him smacking a receiver who’s trying to break a screen pass or Sensabaugh annihilating the dude at the spot. You gotta come up and hit when you play in the SEC, and it looks like our boy can do that.
When He’ll Play: If we assume the Kris Abrams-Draine and Ennis Rakestraw are definitely gone because of the Senior Bowl invites, then that leaves Toriano Pride, Norwood, Clark, McNeil, and DeLoach as the corners already on the team. Sensabaugh is talented but is he good enough to start over those five? Probably not? Maybe one or two but certainly not all. No, I think Sensabaugh has “special teams ace” written all over him for ‘24 with an eye at breaking through to the corner rotation in ‘25.
What It All Means: Early in the recruiting cycle the main storyline around Mizzou’s efforts was, “Where is the effort”? Now, thanks to Williams Nwaneri, Kewan Lacy, Courtney Crutchfield, and, of course, Sensabaugh, the storyline is “Eli flips your ‘croots!” Stealing one away from Tennessee is a very satisfying accomplishment, especially one that has as much raw talent and NFL pedigree. While the era of NIL and the portal means you also have to continue to hold on to them (for now at least), Mizzou has a promising young corner who could continue the recent tradition of standout defensive backs to don the black and gold.