On Feb. 4, thousands upon thousands of student athletes in the Class of 2015 announced where they will spend the next four years of their life to try to further their athletic career.
Fortunately for the Missouri Tigers, one young man from East St. Louis High School in Illinois surprised some and chose to play where few Five-Star football recruits choose to go. On Feb. 4, Five-Star defensive lineman Terry Beckner Jr. signed his letter of intent to play collegiate football at the University of Missouri, above powerhouses like Ohio State, Auburn, and Florida State. As Beckner shed his tears of joy, the sunshine grew stronger for the Missouri football program, and gave them hope when they needed it most.
For the second consecutive year, Missouri shocked the world and represented the SEC West in the SEC Championship Game. This year, they did it relying heavily on their defense. Defensive End Shane Ray became the second SEC Defensive Player of the Year for Mizzou (following Michael Sam who won it in 2013) and just the second player in Tiger history to be named a unanimous first team All-American (following Sam as well).
Ray and fellow end Markus Golden made for a ferocious front line, but both left for the NFL Draft this year.
So how does Beckner bring so much hope to this team? Whether he starts or not, Beckner provides a glimmer of hop again for Missouri. After losing Michael Sam and Kony Ealy in 2013, Missouri barely missed their absence with the production Ray and Golden brought. To have two All-Conference players replaced by two more All-Conference players is very rare, and Missouri knew they couldn’t do it again, so they got the talent they needed.
Beckner is a freak of nature, but in the good way. He’s 6’4″ and weighs in at an astounding 293 lbs. He was the 13th ranked recruit in 2015, the 3rd ranked defensive tackle, and the top player from Illinois (per 247 Sports). Beckner is the highest ranked player to commit to Missouri ever. He brings the off the field troubles that former Five-Star receiver Dorial Green-Beckham struggled with. Beckner will be Missouri’s savior.
“He can win, he can help us win championships and maybe take us where we’ve never been before.” Gary Pinkel, Missouri head coach, said.
While looking at Beckner’s composite score from 247 Sports, his score of .9918 is among some of the recent bests dating back to Timmy Jernigan and Dominique Easley.
The sky is clearly the limit for Beckner. Looking at where he chose to play, it would be a surprise if Beckner didn’t become a star. Missouri has produced recent list of star lineman includes Justin Smith, Evander Hood, Sheldon Richardson, Aldon Smith, and the aforementioned Michael Sam, Kony Ealy, Shane Ray, and Markus Golden. This glimmer of hope is needed when Missouri faced their fears and lost Defensive Coordinator Dave Steckel to a head coach job at Missouri State. Beckner’s potential is calming in Columbia, calming, yet exciting. He’ll be able to stabilize the defense and give consistency as Missouri sets out to earn respect from the SEC, their hard work and underdog story has earned Missouri respect.
The gold and black are back. Terry Beckner is the hero is the hero his city needs-and the hero his city deserves.