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Where do Mizzou’s starting linebackers rank in the SEC?

Mizzou has two all-conference talents in the linebacker corps. Are they among the best in the SEC?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Arkansas at Missouri Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As the 2023 season approaches, we’re asking our football staff to answer a series of questions facing the Mizzou Tigers. Read along to get their takes on who should start, who will shine and who will leave their mark on the season.

It’s not often Mizzou has one of the best position groups in the SEC. This year, they’ve got an argument for having a few.

We’ll get to the secondary later this week, which may be one of the more talented position groups a Mizzou team has had in years. But before we get there, we have to talk about Mizzou’s starting linebackers. Chad Bailey and Ty’Ron Hopper are coming back after a sterling first year together and represent one of the more dependable units in the conference. So we’re wondering...

Between Ty’Ron Hopper and Chad Bailey, there’s plenty of promise and leadership in the linebacking corps. Where do Mizzou’s starting linebackers rank (as a unit) in the SEC?

Parker Gillam, Beat Writer: Georgia is a shoo-in for No. 1, and LSU seems like a safe pick at No. 2. Alabama, Mississippi State and Mizzou all have legitimate arguments for the No. 3 spot, but if I’m assuming that we are going to see Dallas Turner star in mainly pass-rush scenarios, I’ll take the Tigers.

As pure linebackers, there are few better in the SEC than Hopper and Bailey. Both are as experienced as they come at the position, but they also complement each other well. Hopper provides the more explosive, highlight-reel plays that get the fans out of their seats, while Bailey is a much more vocal player that has been a leader of this program for a while now. Their comfortability with Blake Baker’s scheme in year two will pay dividends, and I expect their production to increase as a result.

Quentin Corpuel, Staff Writer: Pretty freakin’ high! Like Parker said, I’d put Georgia first, then LSU second. After that? I think Mizzou has a legitimate argument to be third.

To be completely honest, I don’t really care that much about where the Ty’Ron Hopper-Chad Bailey duo ranks in the SEC (sorry Josh. That was a little mean). I more so care about the fact that Mizzou has a kick-ass 1-2 punch patrolling the middle of the field, which hasn’t been the case for the Tigers in a few seasons. Hopper and Bailey’s elite consistency played a huge part in Mizzou’s defensive reinvigoration last season, and I wouldn’t expect their play to regress in 2023.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Matejka, Deputy Site Manager: No offense taken, Quentin. I just hope I don’t forget to sign your next check!

Chad Bailey and Ty’Ron Hopper are about as good as you’ll find in the country outside the elite-of-the-elite at programs like, you guessed it, Georgia and LSU. Both have shouts to play on Sundays next year and, as Parker pointed out, they complement each other well, with Hopper playing the more adventurous havoc role while Bailey cleans up well in the middle. Maybe a few programs have more highly touted talent in the middle of their defense, but few rival the experience and the high-end ability that Blake Baker has with Hopper and Bailey.

Jaden Lewis, Beat Writer: Georgia and LSU are the two at the top, but No. 3 belongs to Ol’Mizzou. Missouri has had some good linebackers over the years, and tradition will continue again with the two stars it will have for 2023 in Chad Bailey at the Mike position and Hopper at the other linebacker position. You could only project either ascension or a constant good level of play in the same defensive system for back-to-back seasons. As with the rest of the defense, these two will be among the best in the entire mighty Southeastern Conference.