Campus Corner

Missouri defensive linemen confident they can fill void left by players drafted to NFL

Missouri linebacker Markus Golden forced a fumble by Kentucky’s DeMarcus Sweat in a 2012 game.
Missouri linebacker Markus Golden forced a fumble by Kentucky’s DeMarcus Sweat in a 2012 game. McClatchy Tribune

Missouri has a reputation for churning out NFL-quality defensive linemen in recent seasons, but don’t expect the Tigers to dub themselves “Defensive Line University.”

Long ago, Penn State dubbed itself “Linebacker U” and, on Tuesday at SEC Media Days, Tennessee coach Butch Jones proclaimed his program “the original Wide Receiver U.”

Still, that’s not Missouri’s style — though there is a name for the defensive line position group.

“We call it ‘D-Line Zou,’” senior defensive end Markus Golden said. “Now y’all know the name of it. That’s the real name and what we call it.”

Golden said he coined the term last season.

“Before you know it, Kony (Ealy), Mike Sam and everybody was saying it,” Golden said.

He also credited junior Shane Ray, a Bishop Miege graduate, for being the guy who “took it and ran with it,” Golden said.

He added, “You know Shane’s got a lot of speed, so it went pretty fast.”

Playing behind Ealy and Sam, who were both drafted into the NFL, Golden and Ray put up stellar numbers — 94 combined tackles, including 22 for a loss, with 11 sacks, 19 hurries and a defensive touchdown apiece — as backups last season.

Questions remain about the Tigers’ depth for 2014, but Golden is confident the D-Line Zou factory won’t disappoint.

Redshirt freshmen Marcus Loud and Charles Harris, a Lincoln Prep graduate, are the new backups on the depth chart.

“Those guys are out there working hard and competing,” Golden said. “They’ll get there.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

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