Which members of the Missouri football team have earned spots on preseason award watch lists?
While the college football season is right around the corner, several members of the Missouri football team are being recognized on award watch lists for the upcoming season. These awards include the most prestigious national awards, for both on and off-the-field performance.
No Tigers received national awards following the 2020 season, a year that Missouri earned a 5-5 record and an invitation to the Music City Bowl. Following head coach Eliah Drinkwitz’s first season leading the Missouri football program, he enters the 2021 season with bright eyes to the future.
Drinkwits said the following during 2021 SEC Media Days, according to The Tennessean:
"“I really felt like last year we exceeded the expectations of many of the people in the room, but also many of the people within the state about what we could accomplish in such a challenging season. So a lot of things to be energized about for a fan base and for our program. So with that, we look forward to the 2021 football season and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead.”"
Despite the uproar and chatter regarding the imminent arrival of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC, the Tigers head into the 2021 season focused on the 2021 season.
The season starts in nearly a month on Sept. 4 against Central Michigan. The Tigers will return to a raucous crowd at Farout Field in Columbia, Missouri.
In the meantime, let’s look at some Tigers that the nation will be watching.
Award List Appearances: Wuerffel Trophy, Paul Hornung Award, Doak Walker Award
Few players are beginning this season with as much hype as Tyler Badie.
The senior running back from Memphis, Tennessee started his Missouri football career hot, earning a spot on the All-Freshman Team in 2018. Badie’s production was limited though, being behind Larry Roundtree III from 2018-2020.
Entering 2021 and with Roundtree off to the NFL, Badie is the presumptive starting running back this season. While Badie is not the same style of back as Roundtree, he is a greater receiving threat out of the backfield.
His patience and experience will maximize the experience of the offensive line, that returns four starters from last year. His elusiveness, vision, and burst factor in well to Drinkwitz’s pro-tempo offense.
Award List Appearances: Lou Groza Award
Harrison Mevis looks to continue his historic pace following his freshman season.
Landing on the 2020 SEC All-Freshman Team and Freshman All-American Team, the Warsaw, Indiana native was a huge bright spot for the Missouri Tigers. The former #2 kicking recruit in the nation delivered on his promise, scoring 79 points and led all freshman kickers with three field goals from 50+ yards.
Landing on the Lou Groza Award watch list is no surprise, as Mevis was a semifinalist for the award in 2020. Mevis is on the Preseason All-SEC fourth team, but looks to move up the SEC kicking order in 2021.
Award List Appearances: Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy
Despite his turbulent time in Columbia, Trajan Jeffcoat seems primed for a stellar 2021 season.
The redshirt junior from Columbia, South Carolina returned to the Tigers in top form after missing the 2019 season. Jeffcoat was a 2020 first-team All-Southeastern Conference as he racked up six sacks over six games. He also recorded seven quarterback hurries and 23 tackles during the shortened 2020 season.
He enters 2021 as the concrete DE1 for the Tigers and one of the SEC’s top edge rushers.
Award List Appearances: Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Butkus Award
Blaze Aldrige joined the Missouri football team for his final season of eligibility, pursuing his master’s and success on the gridiron.
The graduate player from Kissimmee, Florida previously played at Rice, where he was a consistent force for the Owls. The two-time Conference USA First Team selection had a banner 2019 season, where he led the team in tackles, sacks, and tackles for loss.
Following a successful, but statistically slower, 2020 season, Aldrige transferred to Missouri in pursuit of success in the SEC.
Award List Appearances: Rimington Trophy
Another graduate player, Michael Maietti looks to close out his collegiate career in Columbia.
A native of West Orange, New Jersey, Maietti appeared in all 10 games during the 2020 season for the Tigers and has not missed a game since his first Rutgers start in 2017. He returns to Missouri for his final season, taking advantage of an extra year of eligibility.
Maietti looks to lead three other returning starters on the offensive line into the 2021 season.
Award List Appearances: Davey O’Brien Award
Last but certainly not least, Connor Bazelak looks to realize his potential in 2021.
The redshirt sophomore quarterback from Dayton, Ohio, looks to take the SEC by storm following being 2020’s Co-Freshman of the Year and a member of the SEC All-Freshman team.
Bazelak enters his second season under Drinkwitz and fully healed from his 2019 knee injury. Those two details alone project a stellar year from Bazelak and the Tigers.