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Safeties at LB ... DTs at DE ... flexibility’s the name of the game for the Mizzou defense in 2018

Mizzou’s front seven is loaded with potential, but the secondary still has some experience issues.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Missouri
Akial Byers
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, we took a look at Mizzou’s new offensive depth chart. Now let’s flip over to the other side of the ball.



  • Tre Williams (6’5, 250, So.)
  • Nate Anderson (6’4, 265, Sr.)


  • Terry Beckner Jr. (6’4, 305, Sr.)
  • Rashad Brandon (6’3, 300, Sr.)


  • Walter Palmore (6’4, 320, Sr.)
  • Jordan Elliott (6’4, 325, So.)


  • Chris Turner (6’4, 250, So.)
  • Caleb Sampson (6’4, 280, RSFr.) OR
  • Akial Byers (6’4, 295, So.)

Mizzou enters 2018 light on true, pass-rushing defensive ends but heavy on defensive tackles. This depth chart is at least slightly revealing in that two guys we’d consider DTs (Sampson and Byers) are listed as backup ends.

This hints at something we’d begun to figure out already: head coach Barry Odom and defensive coordinator Ryan Walters are trying to build in as much flexibility as possible. We’re going to see a lot of different combinations, with a lot of different combined sizes, this year. That should be pretty fun ... at least as long as Mizzou can rush the passer when it needs to. It remains one of the bigger questions on the board for this year.


  • Terez Hall (6’2, 230, Sr.)
  • Aubrey Miller Jr. (6’2, 225, So.)


  • Cale Garrett (6’3, 235, Jr.)
  • Jamal Brooks (6’1, 250, So.)


  • Brandon Lee (6’2, 225, Sr.)
  • Ronnell Perkins (6’0, 200, Jr.)

Speaking of versatility, there’s safety Ronnell Perkins, listed as an OLB. I’m going to take that to mean he enters 2018 as the team’s top nickel back. He should be pretty good in that role. Meanwhile, Mizzou will still keep three LBs on the field as much as possible, and with good reason: the Tigers have three really good LBs.


  • DeMarkus Acy (6’2, 195, Jr.)
  • Terry Petry (6’1, 180, RSFr.)


  • Cam Hilton (6’0, 190, Sr.)
  • Jordan Ulmer (6’2, 195, So.)


  • Joshuah Bledsoe (6’0, 200, So.)
  • Tyree Gillespie (6’0, 215, So.)


  • Adam Sparks (6’0, 175, So.)
  • Christian Holmes (6’1, 200, So.)

The youngest unit on the defense is still pretty battle-tested. With Perkins playing the presumed nickel role, that means Hilton and the top name of the three true sophomores (Bledsoe) take over on the first string. It feels like Hilton’s been around forever, and I’m guessing the competition will be ongoing in these spots.

Meanwhile, Sparks was probably Mizzou’s best corner at the end of last season, as the Tigers held five of their last six opponents below a 60 percent completion rate (and four of six below a 130 passer rating). This is still a unit in flux — and no, to my knowledge there has still been no final word on Kaleb Prewett and his suspension (though maybe the fact that he’s still not on the roster is the final word) — but there’s reason for hope, at least.