Pinkel on Hoch and Brantley
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel says defensive tackle is a concern this season, because after all, you can’t really replace a surefire first-round NFL Draft pick in Sheldon Richardson.
But Pinkel speaks highly of returning starter Matt Hoch, a 6-foot-5, 295-pounder who finished 2012 with 36 tackles and two sacks and will be counted on to be more of a playmaker this year.
“Matt Hoch is a different player right now, an entirely different player than he was last year,” Pinkel said. “He’s playing at a whole different level, and losing a guy like Sheldon, that’s certainly a plus for us.”
Pinkel is also high on the potential of redshirt freshman Harold Brantley, who Pinkel says could have played last year but redshirted because of the Tigers’ depth.
“I think everybody can see he’s got a lot of ability,” Pinkel said. “He’s got great speed and quickness for a defensive lineman.”
While initially stunned by the staff’s decision to redshirt him last season, Brantley said he eventually embraced his role on the scout team and used it to improve as a player.
“It hurt me at first, especially because I come from a little town (where) I play three sports and I’m good at all of them … and then I come here and they tell me I’m not good enough to play, I have to be on scout team,” Brantley said. “But I talked to some people, some of the older guys, and they helped me. It’s all in how you look at it. It was just a year I could get better, a year for me to work and get stronger and I think I did it.”
Brantley said he has improved his bench press from around 340 pounds to 420 since he arrived at Missouri, and is ready for the challenge of filling Richardson’s shoes.
“Everybody wants to be the next big guy, the next big name to fill Sheldon’s spot,” Brantley said. “I don’t think anybody can fill his spot right away — I think it’s going to take us working together on the D-line. But it definitely makes it more fun, more competitive.”
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