Camp Preview: LB
On Aug. 6, Missouri opens its preseason camp for 2015. Prior to that Thursday, PowerMizzou.com is taking a look at every position group to see what Missouri has returning and the outlook as the Tigers attempt to make it three SEC East titles in a row.
Today, we continue with the linebackers.
Returning stats: 90.8% of tackles, 100% of TFL and sacks -- 279 tackles, 12 TFL, 1.5 sacks
The Starters: Linebacker is one of two completely set position groups on the defense. Missouri returns Kentrell Brothers and Michael Scherer, the conference's No. 2 and No. 4 tacklers a year ago. The Tigers are the only team with two returning tacklers who had over 100 takedowns in 2014, too. Donavin Newsom is atop the depth chart at strongside linebacker, and things seemed to begin clicking for him in the spring. We've heard plenty about his athleticism; this season may give Newsom a chance to showcase it.
The Backups: From strongside to weakside, the top backups are Clarence Green, Brandon Lee and Joey Burkett. Green, a redshirt senior, is coming off a strong spring where he was one of the defense's most impressive players. The job at back-up middle linebacker will be interesting to watch, too. Lee is ahead of redshirt sophomore Eric Beisel, but Beisel missed the last half of spring ball because of a foot injury.
Camp Outlook: The only real question among the starters is whether it will be Newsom or Green. More than likely, it will be Newsom at strongside linebacker, as he makes the defense a little more versatile. With his athleticism, Missouri is able to stay with three linebackers instead of going to the nickel, even when the offense lines up with three wide receivers. Barry Odom has said he's looking for versatility out of his back-up linebackers, and that may mean Lee will have an edge over Beisel at this point.
True freshmen Terez Hall and Franklin Agbasimere will also get looks, but it may be hard for them to crack the two-deep. Hall, however, may have a chance to avoid a redshirt as mainly a special teams player.
Projected Depth Chart: SLB: Newsom, Green MLB: Scherer, Lee, Beisel WLB: Brothers, Burkett