With Gary Pinkel's 13th recruiting class at Missouri officially in the books, PowerMizzou.com is taking a look back at each recruiting class by position. We'll break down all of Pinkel's recruits and how they fared in their Tiger careers. We continue our Recruiting Recap stories today with the linebackers.
Sean Weatherspoon's family once told the Columbia Tribune's Dave Matter that their son chose Missouri because he saw an MU sweatshirt near his home in Texas and believed it was fate. After originally giving a verbal commitment to Houston, Weatherspoon picked the Tigers and enjoyed three All-Big 12 seasons in Columbia. He's now the captain of the Atlanta Falcons' defense.
The Jasper native was an unranked, two-star recruit with very few high-Division I offers out of high school. By the time his career had ended, that meant absolutely nothing. That's a trend with Gary Pinkel's linebackers. Save for Dedrick Harrington, the four-star recruit from the mid-Missouri area who had a terrific career in the black and gold, Pinkel has plucked unknown linebackers from all over the place and developed them into NFL talents in some cases.
Two-star Andrew Gachkar plays for the San Diego Chargers. Three-star Zaviar Gooden is about to get drafted in April. Brock Christopher was a three-star recruit out of Kearney, Mo., and he blossomed into one of the league's better linebackers and got a few looks at the pro level. Even Lorenzo Williams came to MU as a linebacker before moving to the trenches. He was considered a top-50 linebacker in the Class of 2003, but he exceeded those expectations considerably.
For the most part, many of Pinkel's notable recruits at linebacker have slid off the radar for one reason or another. His underrated prospects have actually fared better. Pinkel has had success with in-state players like Harrington, Christopher, Andrew Wilson and Luke Lambert, but Texas guys like Weatherspoon, Gooden and Will Ebner have rewarded him as well.
The staff signed two in-state linebackers in the Class of 2013 - and nearly had another one - so it'll be interesting to see if the trend continues.
Class of 2001
Elgin Childress (Southfield, MI)
Recruited as a linebacker, but finished his career at defensive end after adding some weight. Recorded two tackles in backup duty as a senior in 2005.
LB Derrick Ming (St. Louis, MO):
Solid St. Louis prospect out of Webster Groves. Worked his way to the top of the depth chart as a senior and was a team captain in 2005. He got some preliminary looks in the pros, but then took a job working for the athletic department in 2006. Third-leading tackler as a senior.
LB Brandon Smith (Stanford, KY)
Transferred to Western Kentucky
Verdict: The Class of 2001 produced one solid contributor. Ming started at weakside linebacker as a senior as a reward for his production on special teams during his first three years.
Class of 2002
LB Dedrick Harrington (Mexico, MO): 4 stars
Terrific middle linebacker and a local product out of Mexico. Finished with an even 100 tackles as a senior.
LB Mau Uiagalelei (Walnut, TX) 3 stars
Junior college transfer. Switched to tight end after junior season.
Verdict: Harrington was a stud. Probably one of the better linebackers to play for Gary Pinkel at Missouri.
Class of 2003
LB Lorenzo Williams (Midwest City, OK) 3 stars
Moved to the defensive line as a redshirt freshman and eventually blossomed into one of the top players on Missouri's 2007 defense. Led the team in sacks as a senior, two-time All-Big 12 selection.
Verdict: Williams wasn't a linebacker, but nobody can complain about how his career turned out.
Class of 2004
LB Van Alexander (Columbia, MO) 4 stars
Dealt with the unfortunate injury bug during his career at Missouri- one injury occurred when he slipped getting out of the shower. After redshirting in 2004, he found ways to contribute but never lived up to his four-star billing.
Verdict: Alexander was a major signing out of Rock Bridge, but he couldn't catch a break as a True Son.
Class of 2005
LB Brock Christopher (Kearney, MO) 3 stars
Played well as a true freshman and then won a starting job at outside linebacker as a sophomore. He switched to the middle as a junior and developed into an All-Conference player on MU's defense.
Verdict: If you're going to have one linebacker sign in a single class, Brock Christopher's probably the guy you want.
Class of 2006
LB Quran Barge (JUCO) 2 stars
One year at MU
Came to MU from College of Sequoias, the same junior college that Sheldon Richardson attended. Redshirted his first year and did not record any statistics in 2007.
LB Sean Weatherspoon (Japser, TX) 2 stars
There's not enough space to list his accomplishments at Missouri. Already a captain for the Atlanta Falcons, Weatherspoon finished with 111 tackles as a senior in 2009. As a junior, he recorded the second-most tackles in MU history for a single season with 155 and earned Third Team All-American honors. He was a three-time All-Big 12 player and had one heck of a chant named after him (SPOOOON). Thankfully for the Tigers, he reneged on his verbal commitment to Houston.
Verdict: Success. No explanation needed.
Class of 2007
LB Andrew Gachkar (Overland Park, KS) 2 stars
Drafted in the seventh round in 2011. Enough said. Overcame a blood clot early in his career to develop into a two-year starter and NFL talent. Finished with 84 tackles as a senior in 2010.
LB Luke Lambert (Brookfield, MO) 3 stars
Played right away, starting with his freshman season. An injury cost him most of the 2010 season, but a medical redshirt allowed him to return for 2011. Tallied 82 tackles as a senior.
Verdict: Hardly anybody thought Gachkar would be a future pro when he stepped on campus, but that's exactly what he did. Lambert had a very good career too, forming a solid Class of 2007 tandem.
Class of 2008
DB/LB Zaviar Gooden (Plfugerville, TX) 3 stars
Recruited as a safety, but moved to linebacker early in his career. Wrapped up his third year as a starter in 2012, and he's now projected as a third or fourth round pick in April's NFL Draft.
LB Will Ebner (Friendswood, TX) 3 stars
Battled injuries during his career, but he was always good for a bone-crushing hit on any given Saturday. He missed almost the entire 2011 season, but like Lambert, he got an extra season in 2012 and finished second to Andrew Wilson in tackles.
LB George White (Flint, Michigan) 3 stars
Transferred to Grand Valley State
Played sparingly before leaving MU.
Verdict: Gooden and Ebner were the cornerstones of Missouri's defense, and they weren't late bloomers, either. The Tigers' coaching staff got a lot of production out of those two during their five years on campus.
Class of 2009
LB Adam Burton (Lee's Summit, MO) 2 stars
Local in-state product who did not last very long at Missouri.
LB Joshua Tatum (JUCO) 4 stars
Former USC signee came to Missouri after a stop at a junior college, but injuries prevented him from living up to his billing. Sat out the 2009 season, and though he did return in 2010, he wasn't the same.
LB Andrew Wilson (Peculiar, MO) 3 stars
Missouri's leading tackler in 2012. Two-year starter who returns for his redshirt senior year in 2013.
Verdict: Tatum never panned out, but Wilson is a building block of this Missouri defense.
Class of 2010
LB Jared Parham (Coppell, TX) 3 stars
Redshirt in 2010 and did not record a statistic in 2011.
Verdict: Off-year for linebackers.
Class of 2011
LB Kentrell Brothers (Guthrie, TX) 3 stars
Had to sit out in 2011 due to injury, but he played a bit as a redshirt freshman this past fall and will get some looks as a redshirt sophomore this year.
LB Brandon Durant (Texas) 3 stars
Tranferred to Sam Houston State
LB Clarence Green (Texas) 3 stars
Played in one game as a redshirt freshman this year.
Verdict: Everybody and their "brother" seems to be high on Brothers. Jury is still out on Green.
Class of 2012
LB Markus Golden (JUCO) 3 stars
St. Louis product who came to MU in 2012 as a junior college transfer. Solid special teams contributor who has since moved to defensive end.
LB Michael Scherer (St. Louis, MO) 3 stars
Redshirted in 2012.
Verdict: Way too early to tell.
Class of 2013
LB Eric Beisel (Fenton, Mo.) 3 stars
About to enroll at MU for the 2013 summer session.
LB Joe Burkett (Jefferson City, Mo.) 3 stars
Mid-Missouri product-also famous for his pole vaulting at Jefferson City High School.
Verdict: There's no Nick Ramirez, but the staff picked up a couple of other in-state products here for 2013. Beisel was an important signing for Missouri, and Burkett could be a major sleeper.
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