Throughout the remainder of the offseason, I’ll be putting a spotlight on one returning player and one newcomer at each position who’s generally intriguing for the 2022 season. There are plenty of avenues of thought when it comes to who you may think is most interesting, so feel free to voice your opinion down below in the comments!
Returner: DL Isaiah McGuire
In 2020, Isaiah McGuire became a part of the regular rotation along the defensive line, usually at the defensive end spot. He was a solid player, but there were definitely a lot of flashes from the then-sophomore that led you to believe he could continue carving out his role.
In 2021 though, McGuire took his game up about two notches and became a heat-seeking missile off of the edge. His ability to bend increased, you saw him use more secondary rush moves, and it looked as if he got just a tad stronger as well.
It all paid off as he finished the year with 14 tackles for loss to go along with 6.0 sacks, which led the team. It wasn’t just the stats he put up, but being a consistent source of pressure was important for the late season turnaround Missouri had on defense.
McGuire even won SEC defensive player of the week last year for his performance in the game against South Carolina. All in all, it was a good year for him.
Going into 2022, I’m excited for the potential of an even further breakout for McGuire. He’s going to have the benefit of an edge partner in Trajan Jeffcoat who will command attention and another year to improve some of his game from a technical perspective. I want to see a more versatile array of pass rushing moves, and a bigger emphasis on how he can stop the run. If he can succeed at that, there’s a good chance he can parlay a nice senior season into an opportunity in the NFL.
Newcomer: DT Marquis Gracial
Marquis Gracial is coming into a situation where he’s going to be needed to play a lot of snaps at defensive tackle for Missouri. This will happen for a couple of reasons.
DT is probably the biggest position of need for this team, and also Gracial has not just the ability but the size to compete right away in the SEC.
Gracial, as you can see above, is a freak athlete with some really nice ability. His strength, and play recognition fly off the screen. He’s not waiting, he’s not doing a bunch of thinking, he’s just playing fast and aggressive. There will be an adjustment period, I’m sure. He won’t throw people around like he did in his highlights, but he does have the strength to play against a 300+lb offensive lineman and hold his own.
Last year, a freshman defensive tackle came in and proved that he could play in this conference at a high level, and now this defense in 2022 is going to need another true freshman D-Tackle to step up and play some sort of role. Gracial certainly could fill that role for Mizzou in 2022.