During the 2014 recruiting cycle, Missouri only signed two linebackers.
That’s the bad news, but the good news is that Brandon Lee — a 6-foot-2, 215-pound specimen from Indianapolis — is expected to become a key player and even enrolled early. That means, he’s already on campus and will have the benefit of spring football in addition to a full summer of workouts.
“Brandon Lee is one of the top 20 outside linebackers in the country,” ESPN.com senior writer Jeremy Crabtree said. “He’s a top 300 prospect and a member of the ESPN 300, so he’s — without a doubt — the headliner at that position.”
Meanwhile, Missouri also inked Roderick Winters (5-11, 195) from Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas, to provide depth at a spot in need of it after losing two starters — the program’s 10th all-time leading tackler, Andrew Wilson, and three-year starter Donovan Bonner — to graduation.
The Tigers return one starter at linebacker in Kentrell Brothers (6-1, 240), who will be a junior. He was fourth on the team with 70 tackles, including 6 1/2 for a loss, last season.Darvin Ruise (6-1, 240), who will be a senior, wasn’t officially a starter, but he saw the field a lot and finished with 44 tackles in a reserve role.
Missouri also returns several other linebackers who saw the field in a reserve capacity or as a special teams contributor. That group includes Michael Scherer (6-3, 235), Donavin Newsom (6-2, 230) and Clarence Green (6-0, 225).
The Tigers also have a handful of younger players on the roster at linebacker — Eric Beisel (6-3, 235), Joey Burkett (6-2, 205), Tanner Hull (6-0, 215) from O’Hara and Christian Williams (6-0, 235).
“Defensive end and linebacker has never been a huge issue for the Tigers, because they do such a good job developing their kids and turning them into good players,” Crabtree said. “They take kind of the raw clay and form it into something. That’s one thing they do a tremendous job at there.”