Published August 6, 2012 - 4:02pm
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Last week, we gave a rundown of the four Mizzou Tigers who earned preseason All-SEC Honors. Now, we take a look at five players who may not have the preseason hardware, but will be keys to the Tigers’ success in 2012.
DT Sheldon Richardson, Jr.
Richardson was one of the nation’s most hyped recruits a few years ago coming out of St. Louis, but apparently was not a Rhodes Scholar, and had to go the JUCO route. After flirtations with USC, Richardson upheld his commitment to Mizzou, and showed flashes last year as Mizzou’s third D-Tackle. Both of the Tigers’ starting D-Tackles from last year are now in NFL training camps, however, so Richardson is going to be counted on to be the main man in middle against the SEC hog mollies.
OG Jack Meiners, Sr.
Few would argue that on both sides of the ball, Mizzou’s biggest question mark in their transition to the SEC will be how they handle the battle in the trenches. While Richardson will try and help the Tigers create stalemates on the defensive side of the ball, Mizzou also has to replace two starting guards on offense. One of the guys trying to fill that void on the interior of line is Meiners, a six-foot-six, 310-pound man child who had seven starts in 2011. One of Mizzou’s weight room warriors, we’ll see if Meiners can clear holes against some of the SEC’s premiere lard asses.
LB Andrew Wilson, Jr.
Mizzou’s leading tackler last year, Wilson slid over to middle linebacker in week one and never looked back after an injury took out Will Ebner for the season. Wilson’s 98 tackles, including 13 for loss, helped earned him all-conference honors and a reputation as a big hitter. His run stuffing demeanor should prove valuable in the downhill running style of the SEC, and this year he will most likely slide back outside to man the strong side, and try to keep some of the league’s power running games at bay.
RB Kendial Lawrence, Sr.
As much credo as Mizzou’s passing game has earned in Gary Pinkel’s tenure, it was their rushing offense last year that finished in the nation’s top 10. The Tigers’ top rusher, Henry Josey, averaged over eight yards a carry until shredding his knee against Texas in early November. Enter Lawrence, who began the season as the team’s starter before a cracked fibula caused him to miss some time. After Josey went down, Lawrence proved his worth, netting three games of at least 90 yards over the season’s final four contests. This season, with Josey still nursing his knee back to health, Lawrence enters as the team’s #1 back and an opportunity to build on his 1,200 career yards and nine touchdowns.
S Kenronte Walker, Sr.
Mizzou must replace mutli-year starter Kenji Jackson at the strong safety position, and Walker looks like the most likely candidate to do just that. Walker has been in the Tiger program for two years, arriving via the junior college route. After redshirting in 2010, Walker helped stabilize the free safety position last year, starting the last four games, all of which were Mizzou wins. This year, he will be called on to replace Jackson and be the Tigers eighth man in the box against some of the league’s power running teams.