Skip to main content

Five Players to Watch in Mizzou's Spring Black & Gold Game

Highlight these five players on your roster ahead of the Missouri Tigers' spring game Saturday.

Spring is often used to represent new beginnings and new opportunities. That's the case for these five Missouri Tigers players who will look to earn more opportunities with their performances Saturday in the Black & Gold game. 

DE Zion Young

Zion Young, a transfer from Michigan State, has impressed multiple of his teammates throughout spring camp. In two years with the Spartans, Young compiled 47 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. He was selected with team Black's second pick in the Tigers' spring game draft.

"Zion's really stuck out to me in spring camp as being just that dude," quarterback Brady Cook, a team black captain, said Friday. "I knew we needed him on the other side to get to the quarterback."

With Missouri's edge depth low after the departure of Darius Robinson, Young has the opportunity to get his foot in the door to earn a role for the 2024 season.

"He just has a super high motor," Cook said. "Every play feels like his first rep and you can feel that pre-snap. ... He's disrupting plays, he's in the backfield."

Fellow defensive end Johnny Walker was disappointed that his team, team Gold, was unable to select Young.

"Zion is like a bull in a china shop," Walker said. "He's an aggressive pass rusher, aggressive edge setter."

Keep an eye on what Young can do in the scrimmage. He's one of the most experienced players in the edge room.

DB Cameron Keys

One of the few freshman who may see immediate action in the fall is corner back Cameron Keys. In his first few weeks in Columbia, the four-star recruit out of Florida has impressed defensive backs coach Al Pogue.

"He's exactly what I thought he was when I recruited him," Pogue said. "A guy that's really athletic, has a lot of great twitch and short area quickness. I mean he can run."

The Missouri defensive back room will have to find replacements for both Kris Abrams-Draine and Ennis Rakestraw Jr., who both declared for the NFL Draft. Keys is one of the candidates who could find a role on the defense after their departures. After having to get over the learning curve of his new world, Keys is starting to get more comfortable and confident.

"At first, you can see it was a little foreign to him because just of the workload with the playbook and things like that but now it's starting to slow down for him and he's making plays, breaking on the ball. You can see the confidence, you can see the swag."

Obviously the spring is too early to make any sweeping assumptions about any player, but especially freshmen. However, a solid performance from Keys in the scrimmage could go a long way to help him see the field in the fall.

RBs Nate Noel and Marcus Carroll

Offensively, Missouri's biggest question mark is the running back position. With Cody Schrader declaring for the draft and Nate Peat's eligibility's expiring, Missouri will lose 100 percent of its running back production from 2023.

To address this, they added both Nate Noel and Marcus Carroll through the transfer portal. Carroll, transferring from Georgia State, is more of a power runner at 210 lbs. while Noel, from Appalachian State, is more of a shifty runner at 190 lbs. 

Offensive coordinator Kirby Moore compared the two's different running styles during practices last week.

“Today, right away, Nate (was) making a few plays out in space, making guys miss, catches the ball in the open field, you think he's gonna get tackled, no, puts the juke move on,” Moore said. “From Marcus Carroll, just physical, downhill, inside zone. Made several nice runs throughout the day.”

Compared to last year where Schrader took 84 percent of carries, it seems like Missouri might utilize a running back committee for 2024. 

“(They) remind me of Tyler Badie and Larry Rountree in 2020,” Luper said of the Tigers' backfield that season. “When Larry played, and Larry was 218 pounds and Tyler was 195-ish, and they were a good compliment. So physically, (Carroll and Noel) would remind you of those two.”

In the spring game, pay attention to not only how they play but how they are utilized. The two are on different teams for the game with Noel on team Gold and Carroll on team Black but Moore will be calling offensive plays for both teams. We might not get the best look at what role each of them will have in the fall, but Saturday's scrimmage could give a better idea to where they would best fit.

DE Aidan Dubbert 

Cook implored us reporters to do more research on freshman defensive end Aidan Dubbert. The Columbia native and Rock Bridge High alumni walked on to the team last fall. Both Walker and Cook had some praise to share for Dubbert.

"I really wanted Aidan Dubbert on my team," Walker said. "He's a real high energy guy, he'll get the team going."

Dubbert is mostly an unknown as he never saw the field during his freshman season. But according to Cook, he'll be making an impact during the scrimmage.

"He was still on the board and I just knew we had to pick him up, I knew it would raise the morale of our team," Cook said. "Not only is he a baller on the field but he's that glue guy. He's the guy we need on our sideline, in our locker room. He's going to make a difference on Saturday." 

Dubbert is nothing but a question mark as of now for everyone outside the building. It's difficult to see him carving out a role for 2024 but we can only take Cook at his word to pay attention to his teammate. 

The Missouri Black & Gold game is free to the public and will be streamed SEC Network+ with kickoff set for 1 p.m.