Missouri senior strong safety Braylon Webb doesn’t speak much, certainly not to the media.
But while he’s a man of few words, his Tigers coaches and teammates can’t say enough about Webb, a 6-foot, 200-pound tackler from Gilmer, Texas.
“He’s very quiet away from the field, but when you’re talking to him he’s a funny guy,” sophomore linebacker Michael Scherer said. “He’s probably the quietest guy on this team … He’s one of those guys you kind of have to go out of your way to talk to, but once you do and become good friends, you realize how funny of a guy he is even though he’s quiet.”
Webb’s game is far from quiet.
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During the last three seasons, nobody has played more snaps for — or arguably been more important to — Missouri’s defense than Webb.
Before sitting out the first half at Texas A&M because of a targeting ejection against Kentucky, Webb had started 35 consecutive games for the Tigers, and he almost never leaves the field either.
“It’s a security blanket not just for me, but I think for (defensive coordinator Dave Steckel) and our entire defense,” MU safeties coach Alex Grinch said. “You kind of know what you’re going to get.”
Webb finished second on Missouri last season with 89 tackles after registering 64 in 2012 — his first season as a full-time starter.
This season, Webb is tied for third behind Scherer and junior linebacker Kentrell Brothers with 53 tackles and leads the Tigers with a career-high four interceptions.
“He’s a quiet genius,” Scherer said. “When you look at his grade after the game, you’re just shocked, because he hardly ever does anything wrong. I don’t think he’s graded lower than a 95 percent this whole year. Ninety-five percent, if that was me it would be the best game of my life, so he doesn’t mess up, he’s there all the time and he makes plays when they come to him.”
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel preaches consistency and Webb has been the model of it during his three-year reign as the starter at safety.
“He’s always had a tendency to put himself in the right spots and makes very few errors,” Grinch said. “You’re not going to see a lot of mental errors from Braylon, partly because of the experience and partly because of his mental aptitude and understanding of the game.”
While Webb might not be all that vocal, his fellow Tigers watch him closely and even voted him captain.
“He’s there early, he stays late, is constantly working hard and brings his best to practice every day,” junior free safety Ian Simon said. “I know I watch him in every single drill that he does, and you can see the effort to improve is there. It doesn’t matter how he’s feeling or what happened that day, when Braylon hits that field he’s there to improve.”
Of course, it’s not like Webb never talks. He’s made an effort this season to be more vocal.
“This is definitely the most that Braylon’s ever talked since I’ve been here,” Simon said. “He’s definitely embraced the captain’s role and he understands there are times he needs to be vocal.”
Still, it’s his play that does most of the talking.
Webb only had two tackles against the Aggies, but no stop was more important than when he and senior defensive tackle Matt Hoch dropped tight end Cameron Clear for a 1-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 throwback screen from the MU 2-yard line in the closing minutes to protect a one-touchdown lead.
“Having Braylon back there was kind of like having the dad of the defense back,” Scherer said. “He’s the old wise man back there, so it helped a lot.”