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Three non-starters who will have a major impact on the ‘23 season for Mizzou

The starting 22 will receive all of the headlines on game day, but to win in the SEC, you have to have quality depth.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 06 Liberty at Ole Miss Photo by Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With there still being question marks about who will start at some key spots for the Tigers next Thursday against South Dakota, few fans are focused on the players suiting up for the second string.

But, if 11 years of SEC football has taught Missouri anything, it’s that you need quality depth to compete week-in and week-out against an SEC schedule. When Mizzou has been at its best, it’s been because the Tigers can go two or three deep on the depth chart with little concern.

Everywhere you look there are stars on this 2023 roster, but stars don’t make a team. Thus, there are a handful of backups that will need to make signifigant impacts if Mizzou is to have the season it envisions.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 22 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl - Missouri v Army Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

EJ Ndoma-Ogar

Offensive Lineman | Redshirt Junior

The former 4-star recruit and Oklahoma Sooner was expected to play a major role on the 2021 and 2022 offensive lines, but inconsistency and injuries caused him to only appear in ten games and start in two over that span.

Still, at 6-foot-3, 335 lbs., Ndoma-Ogar is tough to keep on the bench. He was fairly raw coming out of high school and has yet to take the necessary steps toward becoming a reliable offensive lineman at this level, but with his natural ability and a couple years under Eliah Drinkwitz and Co., 2023 can be his breakthrough season. Albeit in high school, here is what Ndoma-Ogar is capable of, and why he held offers from Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and more:

The influx of transfers Marcellus Johnson and Cam’Ron Johnson likely slides Ndoma-Ogar to the second string, but with how the injury bug hit the offensive line room last year, having a quality backup is mandatory. Ndoma-Ogar should fill that role and begin to come into his own this season, and if he can live up to his high-school billing, then the O-line will receive a much-needed boost.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 01 Georgia at Missouri

Dameon Wilson/Triston Newson

Linebackers | Redshirt Sophomore/Redshirt Senior

I cheated and took two players here, but either (or both) of them could become the needed complement to the duo of Chad Bailey and Ty’Ron Hopper this season. Newson, a transfer from Northeast Mississippi C.C., caught the attention of the coaching staff in the spring and has continued to surprise people with his ability through fall camp. At 6-foot-2, 222 lbs. with great burst in the open field, Newson already has the build and athleticism to step in and compete in the SEC. His instincts from the second level also appear to be well-polished, making it tough to keep him off the field despite the quality of players in front of him.

For context, here’s some of Newson’s film from JUCO:

Wilson, albeit likely not as physically gifted as Newson, has the benefit of experience within the program. After redshirting in ‘21, the former 4-star recruit appeared in 12 games and started twice last season, recording 16 tackles, a fumble recovery and a blocked kick. Wilson’s high IQ and toughness were on full display when he was on the field, and he only figures to improve with another offseason of work under Blake Baker.

It’s a coin toss for which of these guys steps up and becomes the main guy to spell Hopper and Bailey, but both of them have bright futures in Columbia.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 06 Liberty at Ole Miss Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Dannis Jackson

Wide Receiver | Redshirt Senior

Of all the incoming transfers for Mizzou this offseason, one could make an argument that Jackson was talked about the least. The former Ole Miss Rebel arrived in Oxford as a highly-touted prospect, having competed in the Under Armour All-American Game and ranking as a 4-star recruit according to all major recruiting services.

Jackson played sparingly in 2019 and 2020 before having his most productive season (12 catches, 244 yards, 2 TDs) in 2021. However, he did not appear for the Rebels in 2022, and Jackson opted to transfer to Mizzou in January.

Speed is the name of the game for Jackson, as he averaged just over 20 yards per catch in ‘21 and can burn cornerbacks at a moment’s notice. He won’t win many jump balls at 5-foot-11, but that won’t matter if he has 2-3 yards of separation.

With the departure of Dominic Lovett, the Tigers lack a proven downfield threat in the passing game. Luther Burden III struggled in 50/50 ball scenarios and is moving to the slot. Mookie Cooper’s 5-foot-9 frame mainly keeps him within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, and Mekhi Miller usually lives in the slot. Theo Wease Jr. has the size and athleticism to be effective downfield, but he lacks the game-changing speed that Jackson possesses.

Thus, there is an available role for the Ole Miss transfer should be take advantage of it. Having that downfield threat would go a long way in opening up the offense and forcing defenses to respect the vertical passing game, all things that would make life easier on Brady Cook and the running game.

Jackson likely won’t be able to take a starting spot away from the likes of Burden, Cooper, Wease or Miller, but he could certainly find his niche and work his way into the rotation as a big-play threat.