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  1. The Inside Slant: Joel Corry

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    Joel Corry of CBS Sports and the National Football Post joined BK on The Inside Slant to discuss Justin Houston’s newly signed 6-year, $101 million contract. Joel and BK also discuss the players that are the next in line for a massive contract extension: Travis Kelce and Dontari Poe.

    All of that and more on today’s episode of The Inside Slant.

    PODCAST:

    Transcription:

    Q: Can you give me an overview of Justin Houston’s contract?

    A: Justin Houston’s contract is $101 million over six years. That part is a little surprising. I thought the Chiefs would stick to their previous conventions of five year deals. That’s the maximum length they’ve done recently. $101 million is significant because JJ Watt signed an extension for $100 million last year. That clearly was a benchmark for Justin Houston and his agent. There’s $52.5 million in contract guarantees. This is a pretty player-friendly structure, which is what the Chiefs have done previously with Alex Smith and Dwayne Bowe. $32.5 million is guaranteed at signing. $43 million is guaranteed by next March. That is not unexpected. There’s $53.5 million (guaranteed) in the first three years, which is the same amount as Mario Williams had in the first three years of his deal. There are $1.25 million of workout bonuses through the last five years of the deal. The Chiefs are picking up a little under $8.1 million in cap room because Justin Houston was counting at his $13.195 million franchise tag prior to the deal. His cap number is now $5.1 million for 2015. His 2016 cap number is $19.1 million. Factor that into the equation, the Chiefs are going to have somewhere between $27-28 million in cap room using a conservative cap estimate for next year.

    Q: Is there any way the Chiefs can get out of this contract over the coming years?

    A: It’s a three-year deal for $53 million. That we know for certain. In 2018, his cap number is $19.1 million, and the dead money if he’s no longer on the roster is $8.2 million. So, if Justin Houston starts to tail off, or if he starts to turn into the defensive version of Dwayne Bowe, he’ll be gone after 2017.

    Q: How much did the Chiefs lose out on because they didn’t get this done earlier?

    A: This is the latest illustration of the longer a team waits to sign a Pro Bowl caliber player, the more it will cost them in the long-run. This time last year, the deal could have been done in the Tamba Hali neighborhood. Tamba’s deal that he signed in 2011 as a franchise player had an $11.5 million average, $35 million in guarantees. The highest paid linebacker is Clay Matthews at $13.2 million per year. It would have been under Clay Matthews at this point last year. Another point when this deal could have been done was before March when free agency started. Once Ndamukong Suh reset the non-quarterback market to be over $19 million per year and $60 million in guarantees, then this deal got harder to do and the price went up. The one thing the Chiefs should be thankful for is the fact that JJ Watt did a deal with 2 years left on his contract. Just imagine if JJ Watt played the fourth year of his rookie deal with the type of year he had, and then the Texans were doing this deal after Ndamukong Suh hit the marketplace… That would have been a mind-boggling number. It would have made it that much harder to get Justin Houston done, and I think it would have increased the likelihood that he would have been playing out his franchise tag this year.

    Q: Do the Chiefs have enough cap space after re-signing Justin Houston to sign a guy like Evan Mathis?

    A: Yeah, there’s enough to get Evan Mathis done. I look at him as someone that – if he’s fortunate – given the time of year… It would be a deal similar to the Ben Grubbs deal. I think the reason he’s still on the open market is because no one is willing to meat his contract price. I think he’s like 33 or 34. So he’s no spring chicken, but he’s been very productive. And we know he can be good in this system. If you look at the Ben Grubbs deal – if he can get $17.5 million over 3 years, he should take that. I don’t think he’s going to get there, and Ben Grubbs has a $2.4 million cap number this year.

    Q: Moving to another player… What do you think the Chiefs would have to offer Dontari Poe in order for him to re-sign before the end of his rookie deal?

    A: If I’m Dontari Poe, I don’t want to do anything right now. Because I’m waiting for Marcell Dareus to help clarify my market. I expect that to be a very strong deal. Buffalo did an extension of 1-year for $10 million for Kyle Williams. I know Dareus has some off-field and maturity issues, but that’s going to be a very strong deal. I think you set the benchmark at a minimum of $10 million per year. That’s where you would have to go right now if you wanted to get Dontari Poe. I’m looking at San Diego’s guy, Corey Liuget. He signed at $10.25 million per year, five year extension, with over $30 million in guarantees. So I kind of look at that as the floor.

    Q: Travis Kelce is probably still a year away from getting a contract extension, but if he has another year like he did last year, what kind of a deal is he going to be looking for?

    A: If he has another good year, then the guy he will be looking at – and you’re going to cring when I say this – is Julius Thomas. He’s going to be looking at Julius Thomas money, because he’s one of those pass-catching tight ends. Thomas got $46 million over 5 years, with $25 million guaranteed… But what Kansas City would probably be more comfortable paying is what Charles Clay is making, which is $7.5 million per year, with the low $20 millions in guarantees… And you had an older guy, Greg Olsen, take a 3-year extension at $7.5 million per year. And Jordan Cameron took a 2-year deal after a horrible contract year, which was $15 million over 2 years. So, I don’t think you’re going to escape with anything less than a $7.5 million average if Travis Kelce is just scratching the surface. 

    Q: What do you expect to happen on the Eric Berry contract front?

    A: I don’t think Eric Berry wants to be a free agent next year if he doesn’t play football this year, because you don’t know what you’re getting, and there won’t be a whole lot of demand at a high dollar amount. You don’t know if you’re getting the guy that was very productive before the illness or not. It might be in his best interest to do a one-year extension where they spread out his salary from this year. Because if he’s on the non-football illness list, they have the right to not pay him…

    Q: Does that ever actually happen?

    A: Yeah, it does. Sometimes you don’t pay the guy, or you pay him a lower salary. I remember when Jason Peters – who was one of Andy Reid’s players – tore his achilles & missed all of the 2012 season. They paid him about half of his salary. Also, Mike Patterson – who had brain surgery – was on the NFI, he had a reduced salary as well. It’s something that teams do do on some occasion… But I don’t know if Eric wants to be free next year, because there won’t be a lot of demand. So it might be in his best interest to spread out his salary over two years, and load him up with some incentives for 2016. 

    Q: Are there any other contracts on the Chiefs that you find to be intriguing?

    A: Yeah, your big corner that can run – Sean Smith. When he was a free agent, it was a depressed cornerback market. He’s now turned into what is the closest thing the Chiefs have to a shutdown corner. And he’s got rare size for a corner. I know the deal he’ll be targeting is Byron Maxwell’s. He’ll say he’s just as big, and better than Byron Maxwell. So he’s going to be setting his sights on something in the $11 million neighborhood, and beyond $25 million in guarantees, considering his last stint in free agency didn’t work out the way he wanted it to. The thing for Kansas City is that they may have a replacement waiting in the wings. They may have drafted his replacement in Marcus Peters…

  2. MIZZOU FOOTBALL POSITIONAL PREVIEWS: THE OFFENSIVE TACKLES

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    Over the coming weeks, BK will preview each and every position on the Mizzou football roster in anticipation for the 2015 season. Our positional previews began in the first week of July, and we will continue until August 1st – which just so happens to be the first week of Mizzou football camp. See what we did there?

    We began our previews with the quarterbacks, running backswide receivers & tight ends. We’ll continue today with the offensive tackles.

    BK’s Projected Depth Chart:

    Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

    Left Tackle:

    1. Connor McGovern, RS Sr.
    2. Malik Cuellar, Jr.
    3. Paul Adams, RS Fr.

    Right Tackle:

    1. Nate Crawford, RS Soph
    2. Tyler Howell, Jr.
    3. Clay Rhodes, RS Soph.

    There are so many candidates to start at offensive tackle this year. And, much of the time, that’s a problem. When you have a bunch of guys, that normally means you really have nobody. That’s not the case – at least not to me – for this crop of Mizzou offensive tackles.

    Connor McGovern split time at right tackle and right guard in 2014, and the coaches want to see what he can do at left tackle heading into fall camp. Taylor Chappell, who kicked inside to offensive guard in the spring, started 13 games at right tackle last year. The other players that will be a factor at the tackle spots are a highly recruited JuCo offensive tackle

    The Good:

    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    There’s actually a lot to like about the Missouri offensive tackles heading into 2015. They’re athletic (McGovern broke the Mizzou football squat record) and they’re long (every player on the three-deep is at least 6’5). And McGovern’s experience has to be factored in, as well. Missouri likes to put its most experienced offensive lineman at left tackle. They did it with Justin Britt two years ago, they did it with Mitch Morse last year, and they plan to do the same with Connor McGovern in 2015. Will it work with McGovern as well as it did for Britt and Morse? That remains to be seen. But there is precedent for moving a player from right tackle to left tackle.

    I also like the competition that will take place at offensive tackle. I’ve been stumping for Malik Cuellar to start at left tackle all off season; anyone that listens to The Big Show weekdays from 4-6 pm on KTGR knows that. And, I truly believe that is still a possibility. If Malik Cuellar wins the job at left tackle, it would allow McGovern to return to his natural fit at offensive guard. The remaining four offensive tackles would battle it out for the remaining three spots on the two-deep. The other darkhorse candidate for a starting position is Tyler Howell. He’s a 6-foot-9-inch 300-pound JuCo transfer from Butler Community College. Howell hasn’t arrived on campus yet, but he’s expected to be in Columbia before fall camp begins in August.

    The Bad:

    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    The bad is simply the fear of the unknown. We don’t know if Connor McGovern will be as good at left tackle as he was at right guard and right tackle in 2014. We don’t know if Malik Cuellar and Tyler Howell are ready to step in and start from day one as junior college transfers. We don’t know if Nate Crawford is completely prepared to start at right tackle just a year after moving to the offensive side of the football (he had previously been listed as a defensive tackle). All of these fears could be confirmed to be true. But that’s a lot of “if’s”.

    Realistic Expectations:

    The reality of the situation is that Missouri is as deep at offensive tackle as they have been in years. They may not have a Justin Britt or a Mitch Morse at left tackle, although Connor McGovern may well prove to be just that. But what they do have is a ton of athleticism and upside at a position that is crucial for the Tigers if they’re going to have success in the SEC in 2015.

    Realistically, I expect Connor McGovern to get the nod at left tackle. We spoke with Gary Pinkel at the Spring Game, and he said that he expects McGovern to take over where Mitch Morse left off at that position. At right tackle, there are a lot of possibilities. Malik Cuellar and Tyler Howell will have an opportunity to impress the coaching staff. Clay Rhodes was reportedly impressive in spring ball. And I haven’t even mentioned the current player listed as the starter at right tackle, Nate Crawford, who is hugely athletic and has to be considered the leader in the clubhouse.

    So positions are up in the air. Normally that’s a problem. But I don’t believe that to be the case this season.

  3. SEC Media Days: Gary Pinkel News & Notes

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    Wednesday is Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel’s turn at the podium for SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama. The typical talking points were addressed including how Missouri will replace its ever-productive defensive ends, the lack of respect nationally for the Tigers and Pinkel’s hopes to resume the Mizzou-KU rivalry.

    But, as always, there were some news and notes to pass along from Pinkel’s press conference. Pinkel’s go-to phrases are “we do what we do”, “what we do works”, and the ever popular “#MizzouMade.” Somehow, someway, Pinkel worked in all three within the first minute of the press conference.

    “We just kind of do what we do at Mizzou right now,” Pinkel said. “We’re doing what we always do. We analyze our program, absolutely everything we do, yearly, every detail. We try to get better about 5 percent a year. We’re not going to change a lot of things because what we do works, but we always try to stay on the cutting edge to improve as a football program, and that’s no different than now. So we focus on what we call Mizzou Made. And Mizzou Made is the player development. It’s developing them as young men, and I have a great responsibility to do that, when they leave me and how they grow and mature as young men, to develop them as students. Our APR ranking has been one of the best in the nation over the years. It’s been very high on a consistent basis. Last five years, we’ve graduated 92 percent of our seniors, so the academic responsibility that we have. And then the football responsibility of strength, speed, quickness development, mental toughness development, and we have a plan and system in place for all those things, and that’s what we do, and that’s Mizzou Made. We think we do it as good as anybody in the country. That’s what we’re doing.”

    From there, Pinkel opened the room up for questions.

    Pinkel on his recruiting philosophy: 

    “We don’t look at stars, never have, in our evaluation. It’s never come up in our system that we use. Our system is designed to check out people for the kind of people that they are, try to get very competitive people, try to bring students in your program that want to excel. And they have to have size and speed, especially speed, potential. They don’t really have to be great football players. We can teach them how to be great football players… I mean, a lot of our rankings aren’t that high. We were fifth in number of players drafted last year. In first round draft choices we’ve been, in the last seven years, I think, top five in the nation, so we’re doing something right. But I think it’s a matter of we choose who we want to choose, and it’s our player development program, the things that we do when we get them. I believe in what we do, and we just kind of focus on ourselves and the process and work very, very hard.”

    At this point, I think most Mizzou fans have come to understand that recruiting rankings mean very little for Missouri. Three stars develop into future first round picks (see: Ray, Shane). Two stars develop into future Pro Bowlers (see: Weatherspoon, Sean). And five stars develop into what they were always expected to become (see: Richardson, Sheldon). Gary Pinkel doesn’t recruit the way many of the national experts believe he should. And he probably never will. But he seems to be doing alright with his method.

    Pinkel on the perceived lack of respect:

    “I think it probably bothers my players a little bit more than me. I don’t really talk about that. I don’t really go there. I’ll tell you how you get respect is graduating your players, developing our students into young men, and winning football games. That’s how you get respect. You want more respect, do it at a better level and win at a higher level. I just know this, we’re proud to be part of the SEC. It’s a great league, man. You’ve got to buckle it up and go play and deliver every Saturday. Remarkably competitive. You earn all those things, and that’s the way I was taught, and that’s the way I handle our football program.”

    I’m certainly not representative of most of the Mizzou fan base, but I find this to be the most exhausting storyline surrounding Missouri football. Are they respected nationally? In the season, yes. I believe they are. Are they underrated going into the year? Sure. But Missouri has an opportunity to go to its third straight SEC Championship Game this year. No team has done that since Florida in the mid-1990s. Does it ultimately matter how much respect the team gets if they’re performing at that level? I really don’t believe it does. But I know that’s not how most Mizzou fans feel.

    Pinkel on defensive players that will step up following Harold Brantley’s season-ending injuries:

    “Kentrell (Brothers) is really a heck of an athlete. He’s from Oklahoma. He came in to us, and I’ve watched him mature over the years. He can run. He’s quick. He’s competitive. He’s a great athlete. I thought he had an exceptional year a year ago, and I think now what he can do is take his game, and that’s the challenge, take it to a much, much higher level. Charles Harris is a guy that we have also on our defensive line, defensive end that’s a young player, but I think he has potential to be like some of the guys you’ve talked about. We’ve been known to have a lot of high level defensive linemen, and I think that will continue. Unfortunately, we lost Harold Brantley — I think that would have been one of the best players in the SEC, and therefore in the nation — when he got in a car accident. The good news is he’s going to be fine, most importantly. The good news is he can — all that being in a car wreck, he had a lot of injuries, they can all heal, and he can come back and accomplish all his goals, and we’ll get him back next year. But that also puts some — we have to make some adjustments there, understanding we’re losing a great player. Everybody’s got to do that. That could happen the third game of the season. It could happen to anybody in our league.”

    Losing Harold Brantely is a huge blow for Missouri. There’s no denying that. But Pinkel points out two players that can lessen the blow – Charles Harris and Kentrell Brothers. Brothers was an All SEC-caliber player in 2014, and Charles Harris is expected to be the next great Mizzou defensive end.

    Pinkel on re-loading along the defensive line:

    “Talk about defensive line, Craig Kulgowski, our defensive line coach, has done an outstanding job. What we’re doing is training players and fundamentally getting better and keep working and sliding them in. I just mentioned a couple of other names of players that I think will have a chance to come in and compete and do a great job. Josh Augusta is another player that played that will be a junior this year, Ricky Hatley and others. That will be a challenge for us.”

    The run that Missouri is on with defensive ends is nothing short of astounding. The streak began in 2010 with Jacquies Smith and Aldon Smith. It continued with Michael Sam and Kony Ealy. They passed the torch to last year’s starting defensive ends Markus Golden and Shane Ray. Will that streak continue in 2015? I believe in Charles Harris’ talents, and Terry Beckner Jr. has the potential to develop into a star inside. But are they a year away? We will soon find out.

    Pinkel on how Maty Mauk can improve in 2015:

    “I think at quarterback, you’re always trying to make your game better. I think certainly people — we all know this, that the people around the quarterbacks play at a high level, it helps your quarterback better. But I think what Maty’s doing, we need more consistency out of the position. He understands that. As I mentioned before, he’s a pressure pack player. He plays very well under pressure. But the consistency of having an offense that produces, I think, requires consistency from that position. He’s just worked very, very hard, all fundamentals, film study, defensive recognition, and timing with his players, and that’s what he’s working very hard to do.”

    Mauk had his struggles last season, and they have been well documented. But he’s also 14-4 as a starter, and he got much better as the season progressed. Will Mauk’s numbers take a step back due to the turnover at receiver? That remains to be seen. But I think some fans have gone overboard with how bad Mauk really was last year. He certainly wasn’t great, but he was better than some are willing to give him credit for.

    Pinkel on Harold Brantley’s spirits following his car accident:

    “He’s doing good. He has his moments. Henry Josey a couple of years ago kind of went through the same thing, similar type thing. But there’s a guy, great athlete, phenomenal leadership, as you mentioned. He kind of took it over there when Shane and Mark and some of those other guys left. So that will be a loss, but we have to work around that. But Harold will — Harold is going to be okay. He’s going to have his moments. He anticipated being an All-American this year and worked that hard to do and wanted to help us win. It’s just going to put on — we’re going to be on pause for a while. So we have to help him. We do that at Mizzou. He’s part of our family. We reach down and pick him up and put our arm around him and help him through it. He’ll develop. And the great thing is he’s going to be okay, number one. He can be 100 percent healthy, number two. And he can accomplish all his goals and graduate. But we’ll help him through it as he goes.”

    There’s not a lot to say on Brantley outside of the fact that we hope he gets better. He won’t be able to help the Tigers on the football field this season, but all that matters for Brantley right now is keeping his mind and body to a good place. Our thoughts are with Brantley throughout his recovery process.

    Pinkel on expectations for freshman defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr:

    “Certainly with Harold’s injury, Terry’s name has come up quite a bit, as far as being able to come in and play right away. As you well, he was one the top defensive lineman in the nation last year out of East St. Louis High School. One thing about him, he doesn’t get caught up in a lot of stuff. It’s kind of nice. The shining light is not really him. I think he’s a little bit shy that way. I just think we have to get him to focus on becoming a better player and keep his priorities right. I think you always try to do that. You try to help kids. Priorities and humility is hugely important for success, and those are things we try to instill in our players.”

    We talked about Beckner at length in our “top 20 most important players” segment on The Big Show – which you can hear weekdays from 4-6 pm on ESPN 103.1 FM in Columbia – late last week. If you missed the segment, we were discussing which freshman will have a bigger impact, Corey Fatony or Terry Beckner Jr. I’m personally of the belief that if Beckner doesn’t start, he will be counted on for meaningful snaps. I can’t remember the last time Pinkel relied heavily on a true freshman defensive lineman.

    Pinkel on reviving the Mizzou-KU rivalry:

    “I don’t think there’s any question the fans want it back. It’s one of the longest rivalries in college football. As you well know, when we moved it into Kansas City, Arrowhead Stadium, we’ve had some phenomenal games down there. Hopefully, sometime down the road we can get it in the beginning part of the season when both teams have good records, play in the early part of September, and get that thing going again. We’ve got to find a way — I think both fans would love it, and I think that maybe down the road that will happen.”

    Nothing new here, really. But anytime Coach Pinkel mentions the MU-KU rivalry, it’s worth noting.

    Pinkel on senior center Evan Boehm:

    “Evan Boehm, he was a national recruit out of Kansas City. I knew him when he was 13 years old. His father is a high school football coach there. He’s done a great job. You’re a coach’s son, you’ve just been a part of football your whole life. So he comes in with great leadership skills, gung ho, competitive, and that’s the way he is. He had a phenomenal career thus far. It’s hard to believe that this is his fourth year now. He started every game since he’s been here. I thought he played at a very, very high level a year ago, and I think he’s on Rimington watch list right now, and he should be. What he wants to do now is just take his game to a whole different level. That’s hard to do. It’s hard to get there. But I think he’s worked very hard to get that done.”

    Evan Boehm is a guy that we don’t talk about enough. He’s going to be a four-year starter (when was the last time we could say that about a Mizzou player?), and he’s going to be discussed as one of the top centers in all of college football this year. That’s hugely valuable, especially in this conference.

    Matt and I will discuss more news and notes from today’s SEC Media Day availability from 4-6 pm Central on The Big Show. Tune in.

  4. BREAKING NEWS: Missouri forward Montaque Gill-Caesar to transfer

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    Sophomore small forward Montaque Gill-Caesar plans to transfer, a source has confirmed to KTGR. The program confirmed the news via release Wednesday morning. Gill-Caesar was the team’s third leading scorer for the 2014-2015 season, averaging 9.1 points per game.

    “I want to thank the Mizzou Basketball program for its support, as well as thanks to all of the fans and people of Columbia who made me feel so welcome,” Gill-Caesar said in a statement. “I’d like to continue my college basketball career at a school where I am most comfortable. I certainly hope to see plenty of success for my friends on the team and the Mizzou coaching staff in the future.”

    Gill-Caesar went home to Canada for the summer where he tried out for the Canada U19 Men’s National Team. Unfortunately, Gill-Caesar’s back issues, which he dealt with during the latter portion of the 2014-2015 Missouri basketball season, acted up and the 6-foot-6 sophomore had to pull out of tryouts.

    Speculation surrounded Gill-Caesar’s absence from Missouri’s summer workouts when he didn’t return to Columbia after dropping out of the U19 tryouts, and rumors came to a crescendo when a report from Jerry Meyer of 247 Sports emerged stating that Missouri was interested in 2015 four-star power forward Andre Adams. At that time, Missouri did not have any scholarships available for the 2015-2016 season.

    On Monday, Matt and BK of The Big Show, asked Missouri basketball coach Kim Anderson whether or not Gill-Caesar would be back. According to a program spokesperson, Coach Anderson did not know at that time that Gill-Caesar would be transferring. This was referred to as an, “evolving situation.” Gill-Caesar ultimately made the decision on Wednesday morning.

    “We wish Montaque the best,” coach Anderson said in a statement. “In an evolving conversation this week, Montaque informed our program of his future plans. He intends to resume his education and playing career at a different institution. We will assist him in every way possible in that transition, pending the completion of academic obligations he committed to with our staff. Our program cannot thank Montaque and his family enough for being part of the Mizzou Basketball Family.”

    The departure of Gill-Caesar leaves Missouri without three of its top four scorers from the 2014-2015 season. Johnathan Williams III, the program’s leading scorer last season, announced his decision to transfer in late March. He has since announced that he will be attending Gonzaga University. The team’s third leading scorer, Keith Shamburger, was a graduate transfer and has used up all of his eligibility.

    Gill-Caesar committed to Missouri as a four-star small forward from Huntington Prep. He was a late add to the roster, joining the Tigers’ roster in early August. Gill-Caesar cited his relationship with Missouri assistant, and former Huntington Prep head coach, Rob Fulford, as one of the main reasons for his commitment.

    Even with Gill-Caesar’s transfer, the Tigers have a steady flow of options on the wing. Missouri will have to rely on junior college transfer Martavian Payne and sophomore Namon Wright to provide a veteran presence. Missouri could also use Tramaine Isabell as more of a combo-guard in 2015, given his ability to score the ball. The remaining minutes will likely be divvied up between the two incoming freshmen, K.J. Walton and Cullen Van Leer.

    We will continue to monitor the situation and will update this post with any new information. Tune into The Big Show with Matt and BK weekdays from 4-6 pm on ESPN 103.1 FM and 1580 AM in Columbia, or online at KTGR.com

  5. The Big Show’s 20 Most Important Mizzou Football Players (No. 16 – No. 20)

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    Matt and BK are ranking the 20 most important Mizzou football players going into the 2015 season. The guys have made their list, and they are counting down from no. 20 to no. 1 each afternoon around 5:15 pm CT on The Big Show, which you can listen to weekdays from 4-6 pm on ESPN 103.1 FM in Columbia or online at KTGR.com.

    But, for now, here’s the beginning of the list – the no. 16-20 most important players for Missouri going into 2015, with Matt and BK’s explanations added in podcast form!

    No. 20: Ian Simon, S, RS SR. 

    Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

    Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports


    (more…)

  6. Two Mizzou linebackers named to Dick Butkus Award watch list

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    Mizzou linebackers Kentrell Brothers and Michael Scherer have been named to the pre-season Dick Butkus Award watch list. The Butkus Award is given annually to the top linebacker in the nation. The watch list includes 51 linebackers from across the country.

    Missouri is one of 14 teams to have multiple linebackers named to the Butkus Award watch list. The other three SEC teams with multiple linebackers on the list include Georgia (2), Auburn (3) and Tennessee (2).

    Brothers and Scherer are the first Missouri linebackers to be named to the Butkus Award watch list since Zavier Gooden (2012). They are the first Missouri linebacker tandem to be named to the Butkus Award watch list since at least 2005.

    Scherer and Brothers both finished among the top 5 in the SEC in total tackles in 2014, finishing with 114 and 122, respectively. They are the top returning tacklers in the conference.

    The Butkus Award watch list is Scherer’s watch list of the summer. Brothers has also been named to the Bronco Nagurski Award watch list and the Bednarik Award watch list.

  7. The Big Show: Peter Burns

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    Peter Burns of the SEC Network joined Matt and BK on The Big Show to discuss SEC Media Days, the outlook for the SEC and a Mizzou football projection for 2015.

    PODCAST:

  8. The Big Show: Kim Anderson

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    Matt and BK caught up with Mizzou basketball coach Kim Anderson at the first annual Boys & Girls Club MFA Oil Chip in Fore the Kids Golf Tournament. Coach Anderson gave an update on what the basketball team is update and the status of Teki Gill-Caesar.

    PODCAST:

  9. The Sports Wire: Sam Snelling

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    BK was joined by Sam Snelling of Rock M Nation to preview the 2015 Mizzou basketball team & to take a way-too-early look at next year’s recruiting.

    PODCAST: 

  10. MIZZOU FOOTBALL POSITIONAL PREVIEWS: THE TIGHT ENDS

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    Over the coming weeks, BK will preview each and every position on the Mizzou football roster in anticipation for the 2015 season. Our positional previews began in the first week of July, and we will continue until August 1st – which just so happens to be the first week of Mizzou football camp. See what we did there?

    We began our previews with the quarterbacks, running backs & wide receivers. We’ll continue today with the tight ends.

    BK’s Projected Depth Chart:

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Tight End:

    1. Sean Culkin, RS Jr.
    2. Jason Reese, RS Soph.
    3. Clayton Echard, Sr.
    4. Kendall Blanton, RS Fr.

    This is pretty cut-and-dry. Sean Culkin will be the starter, Jason Reese will be the no. 2 tight end/H-Back, and Clayton Echard will come in if/when the Tigers use a jumbo package as the third blocking tight end. Kendall Blanton is the wild card, though. He showed flashes of brilliance at fall camp last year. The players couldn’t hide how impressed they were by the first-year tight end. And his body could be of use to the Tigers – Blanton is 6’6, 250 pounds. Will he end up seeing the field? That remains to be seen. But the Tigers certainly have depth at the tight end position that they didn’t have as recently as two years ago.

    The Good:

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    There’s actually a lot to like about the Mizzou tight ends this year. But, like the wide receivers, much of what the fans are excited about comes with the caveat of an overall lack of past production. For instance – I’m a huge fan of Jason Reese. I think he very well may be the most fluid pass catcher on the team. That includes running backs, tight ends and wide receivers. He’s big (6’5, 250 pounds), he’s fast (reportedly ran a 4.7 40 out of high school), and he looks good catching the football. With all of that said, he has one more catch in his career than I do.

    What I really like about the Missouri tight ends is that each player brings a specific skill set to the position group. Sean Culkin is a converted wide receiver that ran nearly 80 percent of his routes from the slot last season, the highest percentage among SEC tight ends according to Jack Farrell of Pro Football Focus. Add in Jason Reese – a physical blocker that runs smooth routes from the H-Back and in-line tight end position, and you have a great duo that can be in the game at the same time (something I expect to see more of in 2015).

    And behind Culkin and Reese, there are two guys that play very specified roles. Clayton Echard is a monster at 6’6 260-pounds. He’s pretty much exclusively playing the role of an in-line blocker on this team. You’ll see him in goal line and inches-to-go situations in 2015. The fourth tight end is Kendall Blanton, who may or may not see time on the field this year. If he does, it will likely be due to his size and basketball playing ability. The former 2-star recruit flashed at fall camp last year, and could help out in red zone situations.

    The Bad:

    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    I’m not sure if there’s a ton of “bad” in this group. As I said – I really like the tight ends heading into 2015. If you’re nit-picking, Culkin’s drop rate in 2014 left much to be desired. According to Jack Ferrell of Pro Football Focus, Culkin was targeted 43 times. Of those 43 targets, 26 were catchable. Culkin had six drops on those 26 catchable passes, which was the worst drop rate in the SEC. For a converted wide receiver, that’s simply not good enough.

    Realistic Expectations:

    I would suspect the tight ends will be much more involved in the passing game than they were a year ago, if for no other reason than because the wide receivers are so inexperienced. So, what are the realistic expectations? For that, let’s take a look at what Missouri’s tight ends have done in the past…

    2014: Sean Culkin – 20-174-1

    2013: Eric Waters – 8-72-1

    2012: Eric Waters – 4-27-0

    2011: Michael Egnew – 50-523-3

    2010: Michael Egnew – 90-762-5

    2009: Andrew Jones – 8-43-0

    2008: Chase Coffman – 90-987-10, Andrew Jones – 20-146-0

    2007: Martin Rucker – 84-834-8, Chase Coffman – 52-531-7

    2006: Chase Coffman – 58-638-9, Martin Rucker – 53-511-5

    2005: Martin Rucker – 47-567-1, Chase Coffman – 47-503-4

    2004: Victor Sesay – 31-314-2, Martin Rucker – 19-263-4

    2003: J.D. McCoy – 21-190-2, Victor Sesay – 15-154-3

    2002: Ben Fredrickson – 10-119-1

    2001: Dwayne Blakley – 34-362-4

    As I look at those numbers, two things immediately come to mind.

    1) Missouri’s had some damn good tight ends in Martin Rucker, Chase Coffman and Michael Egnew.

    2) When Missouri didn’t have a guy named Martin Rucker, Chase Coffman or Michael Egnew, the tight ends were rarely involved in the offense.

    Now, here’s the question – does Missouri have a tight end on its roster that is the caliber of Rucker, Coffman or Egnew? They certainly don’t have a Rucker or a Coffman, who both came in and contributed in a huge way from the moment they stepped on campus. But, can one of the Mizzou tight ends become a Michael Egnew-lite? Egnew had 7 receptions his first two years on the roster. He had 140 receptions over the next two seasons. Is 50 catches unattainable for Sean Culkin or Jason Reese? I’m not so sure about that.

    If I had to guess right now, I think Sean Culkin finishes the year with somewhere around 35 receptions for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns. I think Jason Reese could evolve into the role that Martin Rucker had in his freshman year, finishing with somewhere around 20 receptions for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns.

    In the end, I’ll project the Mizzou tight ends (as a position group) to finish the season with: 60 receptions, 600 yards and 7 touchdowns. That would mean they average 5 receptions for 50 yards per game. That sounds about right to me.