“For everyone who doubts me” is the acronym that can be found on the shirt of Missouri senior linebacker Kentrell Brothers.
Fitting, considering the 3-star prospect from Guthrie, Okla., was passed over by both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Even more fitting considering his 122 tackles in 2014 didn’t warrant first- or second-team All-SEC preseason honors, even though it was the most among all SEC returners.
That doubt has helped motivate Brothers and lead to an incredible start to the season. Brothers is shooting up NFL draft boards and drawing comparisons to another Mizzou great; All-American Sean Weatherspoon.
Following a 21-3 loss to Florida last Saturday, his entire Mizzou team now finds itself living in a similar doubt. But a win at UGA could change all of that. And, with the year-long suspension of Florida quarterback Will Grier, possibly put the Tigers back in the SEC East race.
As has been the case all season, Brothers could be the key.
Facing a UGA team that ranks 15th nationally in rushing yards per game, Brothers figures to see a ton of action. While Nick Chubb is likely lost for the rest of the season with a knee injury, backup running back Sony Michel is no slouch and his 6.7 yards per carry in 2015 to prove that.
The only running back that graded out higher than Michel in the Class of 2014 is some guy named Leonard Fournette.
Greyson Lambert has put up solid numbers for the Dawgs, but nearly everything is predicated on the run setting up play-action situations, and no one has been better than Brothers at stuffing the run.
His 74 tackles lead the nation and have him on pace for 160, inching closer to Travis McDonald’s school-record of 164 set in 1994.
The biggest difference for Brothers has been his ability to progress from a linebacker that makes good plays to a linebacker that is making extraordinary plays.
His 5.5 tackles for loss in just six games is more than he had in all of 2014, so too are his two interceptions and two blocked kicks. Brothers is the face of a defense that is allowing just 13.5 points per game (best in the SEC) and is allowing just 2.9 yards per carry.
Between Chubb and Michel, UGA has had a 100-yard rusher in each game, while the Tigers haven’t allowed a single back to eclipse the century mark this season.
It is no secret that Mizzou must get better play offensively, but following Saturday’s loss to Florida, coach Gary Pinkel pointed out that this unit has to create turnovers, something it failed to do against the Gators.
Under Pinkel, the Tigers are 101-33 when they do not lose the turnover battle and 46-4 when they are plus-two in the turnover column.
Brothers has silenced many doubters through six games and is making a strong case for SEC Defensive Player of the Year. If he plays the way he did last time he was in Athens (10 tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception) and the Tigers leave with a win, he will see his stock continue to soar.
On http://t.co/oz05rLBgn8, Kentrell Brothers has gone from the No. 178th player (sixth-round) to 93rd (3rd round) in the last two weeks.
— Pete Scantlebury (@PeteScantlebury) October 13, 2015