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August 25, 2012
Best in Camp
PowerMizzou.com covered every open practice of Missouri's fall camp. After watching every workout, it's time to hand out our best of camp awards. Here are the players who we thought stood out in August.
Gabe: My vote here goes to James Franklin. Missouri came in with fans and media having no idea what to expect. Even Gary Pinkel said Franklin was better than he ever would have thought coming off of shoulder surgery. He looked as good as I've seen him look in two plus years on campus. No one else is even in the discussion for me.
Pete: Without a doubt it's James Franklin. Outside of an 18-for-22 performance in the first scrimmage, his stats won't blow anyone away. But just the fact that he showed he was healthy, and able to make all throws, makes him the MVP. If Missouri is going to exceed expectations this year, it starts with Franklin. He showed he's ready for that load with his performance in August.
Gabe: I have to go with Sheldon Richardson. With a nod to E.J. Gaines and Kony Ealy, Missouri has to have Richardson be dominant. He was during camp.
Pete: I think Gaines gets the nod here. Richardson was great, but the difference with Gaines was that he was either making a great play or you didn't see him -- because the offense was avoiding him. Missouri has had good defensive tackles before, but Gaines is on the precipice of something special.
Offensive Surprise (Non-Freshman)--
Pete: I'm going with Mitch Morse here. He was the No. 1-center this spring, but the staff said it was to gain experience, and Travis Ruth would likely be the center this fall. But Morse has exceeded their timeline enough that he was the starter at center all August. I'm no blocking expert, but the one thing I have noticed is that there's no inconsistency with snaps. It was a problem all last year, and now with Morse, no longer is that a concern.
Gabe: I'd say Max Copeland has to be the choice. I understand he is starting partly because of necessity, but the fact is if scholarship guys were better, they'd have passed him. They haven't.
Defensive Surprise (Non-Freshman)--
Gabe: Without a doubt, Jimmy Burge. Craig Kuligowski told me Burge had his best camp by far. I noticed him more this August than I had in the previous three combined.
Pete: I agree with Burge on this one. He's had a great August camp. He may not be a guy that can stay in on every down and clog up the middle, but he's been great against the pass. He's done enough to be a major part of Missouri's rotation this fall.
Top Offensive Freshman--
Gabe: At the risk of being obvious, Dorial Green-Beckham. I didn't write a lot about him in the first week because, frankly, he didn't do a lot to make me write about him. But over the last two weeks, he flashed the potential. The 65-yard catch and run in the final scrimmage is a glimpse of what many hope is yet to come.
Pete: DGB. Nothing more needs to be said.
Top Defensive Freshman--
Pete: I don't think they need him much this year, but John Gibson consistently made himself part of the action. He has a bright future at cornerback, but he might be relegated to mainly special teams this fall.
Gabe: I'm not sure anybody truly jumped out at me but just due to his physical readiness to play, I'll go with Michael Scherer. Scherer looks like a college middle linebacker right now.
Offensive Question still to be Answered--
Gabe: Can the offensive line survive a rash of injuries? Prior to Thursday, I thought so. But if Jack Meiners is out for a prolonged period of time, that is four of the projected ten linemen on the two-deep. That's a lot for ANY team to overcome. Elvis Fisher was still being limited in camp and Justin Britt has had all of four practices. Yes, it's a concern headed into the season.
Pete: The line is the biggest one, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Jack Meiners. But, the receiving unit has a chance to be really good, but it's largely unproven. If more guys step up there, Missouri's pass catchers could rival the 2007 team in terms of top to bottom talent.
Defensive Question still to be Answered--
Pete: It starts and ends with the defensive line. Can Missouri's front four hold up for the entire season? Richardson has to be an NFL talent. Ealy, Michael Sam and Brad Madison have to be complete ends. And there has to be an answer next to Richardson, whether it's one player or a rotation of Matt Hoch, Burge, Lucas Vincent and Harold Brantley.
Gabe: Are the Tigers going to be better at safety? Braylon Webb will likely be the starter, but has missed the last week after surgery on his meniscus. I like what I saw from Ian Simon, but he's never seen the field. Matt White has something to prove on game day. Nobody can say they know for sure what to expect out of this position.
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