Missouri Football: Tigers Finding Their Way in the SEC

Can Missouri football scratch, fight and crawl its way back into the SEC Championship Game in the near future?

How far away are Barry Odom, Drew Lock and the rest of this Missouri football team from being a legitimate factor in the SEC? Truthfully, it may not be the case in 2017.

The Tigers have seen both unexpected success and maddening failure during their brief stint in what’s often been seen as one of college football’s most competitive conferences. Things just haven’t gone their way recently.

Two straight conference championship appearances in 2013 and 2014 gave way to disappointing conference records in 2015 and 2016. If you flip the 6-2 SEC record of the Florida Gators, you have Mizzou’s 2-6 finish in the conference a season ago.

The other teams in the SEC East are improving. Then, there’s the constant threat of the more dominant programs of the SEC West. Any fan of the Tigers, if they’re being honest, probably’s been asking themselves a question.

Can Missouri truly compete, year in and year out, in the SEC?

Step one: Recruiting

Missouri didn’t exactly have one of their better showings on the recruiting trail over the past year or so. 247Sports.com only sees them as landing the 42nd-best class nationally and the 13th best class in their conference. It’s not too far out of the realm of possibility that the defense will improve.

There have been efforts to improve at the nickle cornerback position. Pieces are already in place at the other levels of defense. With that being said, there’s a word that’s being used a lot when describing Mizzou defensively, depth.

On offense, five linemen put pen to paper and agreed to play their college ball in Columbia, Missouri. They’ll look to improve Lock’s protection and add strength to the running game. Then, there’s the guys who are already there.

Returning running backs Damarea Crockett and Ish Witter both sat out of the spring game. J’Mon Moore is the only receiver in the conference who can brag about posting a 1,000 yard season in 2016, but this will be his final season in old gold and black.

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Missouri has some pieces that should allow for them to field a competitive team in 2017, but if they want to establish long-term success, they’ll need to become a more consistent factor in recruiting. It’s unlikely, but it’s not impossible

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