Last year Missouri stumbled out to a 4-5 start before winning their final four games. This included a blowout win in the Independence Bowl over North Carolina. Like the Aggies of Texas A&M, the Tigers have left the Big 12 behind and will be spending their first season in the SEC. The fanfare surrounding the move may have already impacted recruiting, as Mizzou was able to convince the nation’s top recruit, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, to stay put in his home state. There’s no question the Tigers’ faithful hope this is a sign of things to come. Here is a look at the top draft eligible prospects from Missouri. Underclassmen are designated with an asterisk…
Henry Josey* RB 5’10 190 – Josey was in the midst of a phenomenal sophomore season, with 1168 yards and nine touchdowns on 8.1 yards per carry, when his season was cut short by a “one in a million” knee injury. Josey has had multiple surgeries to repair his patellar tendon, torn menisci, MCL, and ACL and he is unlikely to see the field in 2012. Still, Josey recently insisted that there was a good chance he’ll play this season. He’s a small back who relies on speed and quickness, so it will be critical for him to regain confidence in his leg. To this point he gives every indication that he is hell-bent on regaining his form. Josey has two years of eligibility remaining and it seems in his best interest to ease himself back and return at full strength in 2013.
T.J. Moe WR 6’0 200 – Moe is one of the under the radar offensive players mentioned here.
James Franklin* QB 6’2 225 – Franklin has two years of eligibility remaining and he’s almost certain not to leave school early. But after a season in which he passed for 2872 yards and 21 touchdowns, and added 981 yards and 15 TDs on the ground, the Tigers quarterback is worth keeping an eye on throughout the season. Franklin was the fourth rated dual threat quarterback in the country coming out of high school in 2010. As a sophomore, in his first season as a starter, he led the team to an 8-5 record and the bowl game win over the Tar Heels. He’s got a fairly strong arm, and a smooth, easy delivery. Missouri runs a lot of designed quarterback runs, but otherwise Franklin seems to have a feel for when to take off and run if a play breaks down or if he sees a lot of open running room. Franklin keeps his eyes down the field but he doesn’t always step into his throws. As a result he can float some passes around the sidelines. This spring, Franklin caught a bad break in a scrimmage when he tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder while diving on a fumble. The injury required surgery, but the resilient young quarterback has recovered in time for the fall. Missouri’s move to the SEC means their schedule will be that much tougher this season. It will be imperative that Franklin stay healthy and continue to improve or the Tigers may have trouble competing in their first year in a new conference.
Zaviar Gooden OLB 6’2 230 – Gooden came to Mizzou as a 195 pound safety. He redshirted a season, added some bulk, and moved to linebacker in 2009. Gooden became a full time starter in 2010 and racked up 10 tackles and three sacks. He also picked off two passes and broke up five others. Last season, playing on the weak side, Gooden tallied eight tackles for loss, a sack, two more interceptions, and four pass break ups. Gooden doesn’t have imposing size and won’t get much bigger. He runs well, changes directions quickly and uses his experience as a safety in coverage. At this point he looks like a solid mid round draft pick with potential to move up – especially if he can return to his 2010 form.
Elvis Fisher OT 6’5 295 – Fisher took a redshirt for his first season back in 2007. In 2008 he started all 14 games at left tackle. By his sophomore season, Fisher was All-Big 12 honorable mention; and he repeated that honor the following year. Fisher lost his 2011 season to a ruptured patellar tendon, but was granted a medical redshirt. This year Fisher is healthy, and set to return as the team’s left tackle where he has held the fort down for 40 career games.
Brad Madison DE 6’4 265 – Madison played guard in high school and spent his redshirt season with the Tigers working with the offensive line. He moved to defense prior to 2009, and saw most of his action on special teams. As a sophomore in 2010, Madison led the team with 7.5 sacks, forced two fumbles and added 11 tackles for loss. Last year, Madison fought through a shoulder injury all season, and his production dipped to 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. Now healthy, Madison hopes to regain the form he displayed as a sophomore, and get back to harassing opposing QBs.
Sheldon Richardson* DT 6’4 295 – Richardson committed to the Tigers out of high school in 2009, but never qualified academically. He took his game to College of the Sequoias, a junior college in California, before returning to Mizzou last season. He established himself as an essential cog in the defensive line rotation, and racked up eight tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. His efforts earned him recognition in the form of All-Big 12 honorable mention, despite the fact that he started only two games. Like Madison, Richardson struggled with a shoulder injury of his own last season. He appears to be healthy and poised to transition smoothly into a full time starting role this season.
Also keep and eye on: Andrew Wilson* ILB 6’3 235, Will Ebner ILB 6’0 230, Rolandis Woodland WR 6’3 200, L’Damian Washington* WR 6’4 195, Jimmy Burge DT 6’2 285, Jack Meiners OT 6’6 310, Kendial Lawrence RB 5’9 195, Kip Edwards CB 6’1 200, Travis Ruth C 6’2 295, Trey Barrow P 6’1 205