Missouri Tigers Football Countdown: 69 Days Until AJ Harris


There’s only 69 days left until the Missouri Tigers kick off their 2016 season against West Virginia, so today we honor number 69 for the Tigers, offensive guard AJ Harris.

As the Missouri Tigers head into the 2016 football season, they’ll be looking to rebuild an offensive line that lost four of five starters as they exhausted their collegiate eligibility. While it’s pretty safe to say that the offensive line wasn’t the Tigers’ best unit last year, it did feature two players who were taken in the NFL Draft–center Evan Boehm and left tackle Connor McGovern–so it will be no easy task to rebuild the line this year.

If he’s bulked up enough to be ready for the grind and intensity of SEC competition, one player who could help out significantly with the rebuilding project might be guard AJ Harris, who was the top recruit from the state of Kansas in the spring of 2015. Harris, who was regarded as a four-star prospect by Rivals, redshirted during the 2015 season, and seemingly with good reason, as he was listed at 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds on the Tigers’ roster.

While playing at a lower weight is absolutely fine for an offensive lineman as long as they can maintain their strength, especially as defensive linemen get thinner and quicker, 285 might be a bit too light for Harris to effectively compete in the SEC. It’d be interesting to hear the story behind Harris’s current weight listing, as he was listed at 297 when he came out of high school.

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Harris has a chance to beat out redshirt sophomore Kevin Pendleton for the starting right guard job during preseason practices, and if left guard Nate Crawford continues to struggle with back issues, it’s feasible that Harris and Pendleton could team up together to be Mizzou’s starting guards. Like highly-regarded prospect Evan Boehm before him, Harris could also make the transition from guard to center if the Tigers feel more comfortable kicking current center Alec Abeln out to guard.

Whatever the case, it looks like the Tigers have a very intriguing talent on their hands for the next four years with Harris. His mix of strength and athleticism should allow him to be a major force against the SEC’s wildly athletic defensive linemen.