Missouri will have its top defensive lineman when it faces Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31.
Senior defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. squashed any concerns about him skipping the bowl game in order to protect his NFL Draft stock, which is turning into a nationwide trend at Power Five programs. Oklahoma State will be without running back Justice Hill and offensive lineman Larry Williams in the bowl game for similar reasons.
Beckner said he nobody approached him with the idea of skipping the game, nor did he ever consider it.
“It’s my last one at the university,” he said. “You gotta go out right.”
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As a team captain and leader on the defense, Beckner couldn’t imagine skipping the last chance he has to play with his teammates of the last four years.
This past week, Beckner has picked up second-team all-Southeastern Conference honors from both the league’s coaches and the AP after leading the team with 9 1/2 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.
Defensive coordinator Ryan Walters praised Beckner for his season and said the 6-foot-5 tackle made the right choice to pass up the NFL and come back to school.
“He’s so much more consistent than he ever has been,” Walters said. ‘His physicality and his consistency will provide him success.”
Beckner said he’s leaving the program and his position group in a better place than he found it, especially given the emergence of Texas transfer Jordan Elliott in the regular-season finale against Arkansas.
Elliott had three sacks and a forced fumble that was recovered in the end zone, which earned him SEC co-defensive player of the week honors. Walters joked that Missouri needs to have Elliott’s mother at every game, after she was in the stands for her son’s performance against Arkansas.
He added he hopes Elliott uses the performance as a springboard into next season.
“You’re going to see a lot more from Jordan Elliott,” Beckner said. “That’s probably one of the best games I’ve seen someone play at this level, d-tackle wise. You get three sacks on the inside, you’re really not supposed to be doing that.”
▪ Barry Odom said after Saturday’s practice that offensive analyst Garrick McGee will serve as the Tigers’ interim tight ends coach until after the Liberty Bowl. McGee was formerly the head coach at UAB and coached wideouts at his previous stops, including Northwestern and Toledo. Tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley left MU for the same job at Texas A&M on Monday.
▪ Odom said tight end Albert Okwuegbunam (shoulder) will be very limited in practice until after Christmas, when the team travels to Memphis. He wants to see where Okwuegbunam’s progress is in Memphis before making any decisions. Wideout Nate Brown (groin) is in the same position as Okwuegbunam. The staff will wait until Memphis before making a decision on whether he can play in the bowl game.