Mizzou will be forced to address the unexpected retirement of a projected starter.
The blows just keep coming for the Missouri Tigers football program. After defensive linemen Walter Brady and Harold Brantley–two presumptive starters–were dismissed on Wednesday, head coach Barry Odom announced at Thursday’s practice that offensive lineman Nate Crawford has medically retired. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Dave Matter had the scoop first on Twitter.
Crawford had back surgery during spring practice, the second operation that he’s undergone on his back. It seemed as if the Tigers were operating with the assumption that Crawford wouldn’t be ready for the start of the season, but it’s still somewhat shocking to hear that he’s giving up on the sport entirely.
Crawford, a 6-foot-5, 290-pounder who was going into his redshirt junior season, played in 11 games and started eight for the Tigers in 2015. Crawford, a former defensive lineman, was one of Mizzou’s most versatile linemen, seeing action at both right tackle and left guard. Though he dealt with an ankle injury for most of the season, he was one of the Tigers’ best offensive lineman.
As we wrote last summer, Crawford had an insane amount of potential on the offensive line. He was exceptionally strong, and he brought over a level of athleticism from the defensive line that isn’t found in most offensive linemen. Unfortunately, he won’t get a chance to reach that potential.
With Crawford gone, the Tigers have 11 scholarship offensive linemen remaining, five of whom are spending their first year in the Mizzou program, either as true freshmen (three) or junior college transfers (two). In addition, Tyrell Jacobs is a recent convert from the defensive line, and at a listed 265 pounds, it doesn’t seem like he’d be a realistic option to contribute on the line this year.