There will be some turnover on the offensive line in 2021, and the Tigers added some offseason reinforcements to help that transition
Connor Tollison, J’Marion Gooch, and Connor Wood will all be new to Columbia this season. Each has made their way to Mizzou from different paths, but the one thing they all have in common is that they were brought here to beef up the depth of Marcus Johnson’s O-Line.
While none project as surefire Week 1 starters, football injuries and the ever-changing situations that arise due to COVID could thrust any of these young men into the fold for Drinkwitz’s boys. With that in mind, let’s look at how each found their way to Columbia, and what they bring to the table.
Of the three newcomers mentioned, Tollison was the most sought after. He picked the Tigers over the likes of Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, and others. At 6’4” 305 lbs the Jackson, Missouri, native projects as a Power-5 contributor and possible NFL lineman.
In his high school, he bullied defenders but played at a lower level of competition where he didn’t get to compete against players of his talent level. This might increase his learning curve as he adjusts to the SEC, but overall most scouts agree that his size and speed at the positions should translate well to the college level as he develops.
Also, he has a gorgeous mullet if that counts for anything.
Tollison probably won’t see the field because there are quite a few others with experience ahead of him on the depth chart, but his recruiting pedigree isn’t anything to scoff at and is a clear indicator of his talent.
Gooch is a true freshman like Tollison, but he doesn’t look like it. Measuring 6’7” and 370 lbs Gooch is nothing short of a mammoth of a human being. While not as highly-touted as Tollison was out of high school, Gooch’s size will always make him standout and he chose the Tigers over offers from his home-state Volunteers and Auburn. His commitment came as a welcome surprise, too, because he was committed to Tennessee before Jeremy Pruitt was fired.
Like Tollison, Gooch punished defenders with his blocks in high school as he looked like a man amongst boys. However, the difference between these two young Tigers is Gooch relies on his size, and Tollison relied on his speed and athleticism.
Barring injury, Gooch will likely not see much time on the field this year, but his raw power and size is something Tigers fans should be looking forward to seeing on Faurot Field in the coming year.
Unlike the last two newcomers, Connor Wood comes into this year a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining. He hasn’t played an organized game in a while because his previous school, Montana State, had their 2020 season cancelled due to COVID. However, when Wood did last see the field, he made his presence known. Despite not suiting up last year, he did make 24 starts in his previous two years with the Bobcats, and even picked up honorable mention All-America honors at the FCS level.
Tape from Montana State is limited, but Wood comes in with a belt of experience and some accolades to back him up. Beyond just the recognition, Wood also has great measurables at 6’4” 315 lbs and looks to be firmly in the competition for a starting tackle spot.
Both tackle positions for the Tigers are wide open right now, but most are expecting Hyrin White to lock one of those down going into Week 1. That leaves the other spot for the taking, and Wood could hear his number called. While he may not have played at an SEC level, 24 college starts is something almost no one on this offensive line (outside of Michael Maietti) can say they have, so it’s almost a guarantee Wood will see the field this year, it’s just a matter of what capacity.