Missouri opens its first fall camp under new coach Barry Odom on August 4, and the Tigers have more than a few things to figure out in the run-up to the September 3 season-opener at West Virginia.
The defense again is expected to be strong for Mizzou, but there are a few holes that need to be filled during camp. The biggest hole, though, is on offense.
Here's a look at Missouri's three biggest position battles in fall camp.
3. Strong safety
The participants: Sophomore Cam Hilton vs. sophomore Greg Taylor vs. junior Thomas Wilson.
The skinny: The departure of three-year starter Ian Simon leaves Mizzou with a gaping hole at strong safety. Wilson is the most-experienced option; he saw action at free safety and in the nickel in 2015. Hilton probably has the most upside of the three. After seeing most of his action at wide receiver last season, Hilton made the transition back to defense in the spring because of the lack of depth at the position. His high school film flashed moments of brilliance, with both big hits and highlight interceptions. He's a guy to watch. Finally, there's Taylor, a junior college transfer who originally committed to Mizzou out of East St. Louis (Ill.) High. Taylor is billed as a "traditional" strong safety: He'll come up and hit you, but he can also make plays in coverage. In the end, I suspect we'll see Wilson as the starter in week one, with Taylor as his primary backup. Hilton probably is a better fit at free safety as a backup to junior Anthony Sherrils.
2. Outside linebacker
The participants: Junior Joey Burkett vs. sophomore Terez Hall vs. sophomore Brandon Lee.
The skinny: There is only one position up for grabs in the Tigers' front seven this season – but it's the outside linebacker spot left vacant by tackle machine Kentrell Brothers, who's now with the Minnesota Vikings. Each of the contenders brings a different dimension to the defense. Lee (6 feet 2, 220 pounds) has the prototypical size. Burkett is probably the best athlete of the three. Hall might be the most intriguing option of the three. He's a heat-seeking missile, but the coaches talked a lot last fall and spring about how he needs to play more within himself. I would guess the Tigers ultimately start Lee, with Hall as the backup and Burkett as the No. 2 guy behind Michael Scherer at MIKE linebacker.
1. Wide receiver
The participants: Sophomore DeSean Blair vs. junior Nate Brown vs.
junior Dominic Collins vs. sophomore Keyon Dilosa vs. redshirt freshman Richaud Floyd vs. sophomore Emanuel Hall vs. redshirt freshman Johnathon Johnson vs. junior J'Mon Moore vs. redshirt freshman Justin Smith vs. sophomore Ray Wingo.
The skinny: Yeah, yeah – that's a lot of participants. But it's impossible to narrow it down to one guy vs. another. We know, barring injury, Alabama graduate transfer Chris Black will start in the slot for Missouri against West Virginia. But the rest of Missouri's wide receiver depth chart is completely up in the air. There are 10 receivers listed, and it wouldn't come as a shock if any of those 10 started alongside Black against WVU. The early favorites probably are Brown and Moore, both of whom started last season. But don't count out Smith – whose size (6-7) makes him stand out – or Hall. Both received rave reviews at times last fall.
(You can follow Brandon Kiley on Twitter @BKSportsTalk)
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