The Missouri Tigers’ linebacker core will invariably look different in 2021 as Gerald Nathan Jr. will no longer compete for a spot after announcing his entrance into the transfer portal yesterday afternoon.
“First, I would like to thank God for allowing me to play this sport I know and love,” said Nathan Jr. in a recent Twitter post. “Thanks to the Missouri staff, fans and most importantly my MIZZOU brothers for embracing me with open arms.”
A class of 2018 recruit under former head coach Barry Odom, Nathan Jr. amassed just one tackle in his Tigers career, featuring primarily as a special teams threat. The Charlotte, North Carolina native’s high school and college practice tapes show a strong ability to jump gaps and make tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and he has the athletic profile to make an impact for his next program.
Another former Tiger who left by way of the transfer portal this year, wide receiver Jalen Knox, is now listed on the Ole Miss roster. Knox joins forces with head coach Lane Kiffin, whose first year in Oxford ended with a 5-5 record in 2020. The Rebels were competitive in losses against Florida and Alabama, and their season concluded on a high note with a 26-20 win over Indiana in the Outback Bowl.
Knox, a senior with two years of eligibility, will compete to fill the slot receiver role left behind by current New York Jets receiver Elijah Moore. Moore opted out of the final two games of the season, but he still put up a monstrous 86-1193-8 receiving line in just eight games. Knox will look to develop a rapport with Rebels quarterback Matt Corral, whose receiving corps behind Moore primarily lined up out wide. Knox’s know-how of SEC-level competition over his three years as a Tiger, in which he amassed over 1,000 receiving yards, makes him a great get for Kiffin’s nifty offensive play calling.
The Tigers aren’t just facing departures though; running back Tavorus Jones, a class of 2022 recruit from Burges High School in El Paso, Texas, told fans on Twitter that he will announce his commitment this Friday at 5 p.m. Jones recently wrapped up an official visit in Columbia, during which he expressed a “great” impression from.
Jones has an extensive list of offers, including Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M from within the SEC. The interest he’s received is no surprise after watching his highlight tapes, in which he’s displayed blazing speed beyond the line of scrimmage, tackle-breaking ability and even a knack as a pass-catcher both in the backfield and on the boundary. In his first three years as a Mustang, Jones averaged over ten yards per scrimmage touch, putting up over 2,500 yards and 33 touchdowns.
If he does choose to commit to Missouri, Jones would be the tenth in the 2022 class and the first running back.
In other news, the Missouri and Missouri State football programs scheduled another future matchup to be played in 2033, first reported by the Springfield News-Leader. The first installment of the series came in 2017, a 72-43 home Mizzou win in an offensive firestorm from Drew Lock. The Tigers and Bears will play next in 2029 at Faurot Field, earning Missouri State a $550,000 paycheck for each of the two prospective games.