New Mizzou defensive lineman Jordan Elliott
If Jordan Elliott becomes the Missouri defensive line’s next star, Drew Lock will be able to say he saw the man’s moment coming.
More accurately: The Mizzou quarterback saw Elliott repeatedly running toward him in the backfield during practices last season, when the transfer from Texas was screaming that he could have sacked Lock.
“He can pretty much do whatever he wants,” Lock said. “He’s a very physical guy that I wish we had on the field last year, but I’m very grateful we have him on the field this year playing with us, not against us.”
The quarterback isn’t alone. The praise Elliott received during December bowl practices has continued into the spring. And the 6-foot-4 defensive lineman who has three years of eligibility remaining figures to play a key role for the Tigers defense next season.
MU returns just one starter on the defensive line, senior tackle Terry Beckner Jr. But the Tigers tout depth as strength for the defense next season. Mizzou lists Elliott as a tackle on its spring depth chart, but he, like most of Missouri's defensive linemen, has been playing all over the line during spring practices to ensure that all of the Tigers get enough reps.
Elliott, who was Missouri’s defensive scout team player of the year a season ago, said he has can play different positions. He even played some defensive end as a freshman at Texas, when he weighed about 330 pounds. Now he claims to weigh about 300, and he hopes to shed a bit more weight.
“In conditioning he's running with the linebackers and tight ends,” defensive coordinator Ryan Walters said. “To be his size and be able to move and bend and be as powerful as he is, he's got a chance to be special.”
Jomaul Mason, the coach at Westside High School in Houston, said Elliott displayed tremendous athleticism when he played for him, too. As a senior, Elliott developed an understanding of how to use his long arms and quick hands to penetrate offensive lines. He was a U.S. Army All-American in 2016, and he had his pick of major programs to sign with out of high school.
So he picked a team, only to pick again … and again … and again … and again.
Elliott committed to Baylor, then Houston, then Texas and then Michigan before ultimately signing with the Longhorns. Mason said immaturity led to the recruiting saga.
“As a kid, a young kid, he started just jumping on the first thing,” Mason said.
Elliott’s decision to come to MU was simpler.
His defensive line coach at UT, Brick Haley, left the school when Texas fired coach Charlie Strong. Haley ended up at Mizzou, and Elliott followed.
“He was the determining factor for me coming here,” Elliott said. “I had chances to really go anywhere I wanted to. But to come here and play for him, that was real big in my decision making.”
Elliott said Haley is developing schemes that utilize Tigers’ depth, which means they’re “not going to have any weaknesses” along the defensive line next season.
Even if that proves true, the Tigers think Elliott will stand out from a crowded unit.
“Hoo-boy,” Beckner said. “He’s going to wake some people up.”