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The new is coming…

College football season is upon us, with just a few months left until Missouri football officially kicks off. If there was ever a reminder of the sport's current landscape, it was Monday when Texas and Oklahoma were officially admitted into the Southeastern Conference, along with a flurry of changes, quite literally, from coast to coast.

As the SEC gets bigger and probably tougher, doing good work in the transfer portal becomes more and more important. Missouri Football had a busy few transfer windows and was able to secure 15 players for the new season.

Here are three transfers that may have flown a little under the radar but could be critical to Mizzou's success in the 2024 season, when a spot in the expanded 12-team College Football Playoff seems like an attainable goal for Eli Drinkwitz's Tigers.

More: Here's where Missouri football's defense looks strong and where questions still need to be answered

Marcus Bryant, left tackle

The success of Missouri's offense will depend to a large extent on the performance of their potential new left tackle Marcus Bryant.

At least there was good news in the preseason: this was one of the most promising transfers in this position that there was.

A stocky 6-foot-8, 300-pound forward, Bryant was a first-team All-AAC selection at SMU last season. While that's not a perfect stat for O-line efficiency, the Mustangs allowed just 16 sacks in 14 games last season — a good rate for 13th in the FBS.

Now Bryant's job is to protect quarterback Brady Cook's blind side.

Outgoing Mizzou left tackle Javon Foster was named to the All-SEC first team his senior year before being selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth round of this year's NFL Draft. He was a rock, often serving as a playside blocker for running back Cody Schrader during his record-setting season.

Bryant has yet to complete his first training camp with the Tigers, but in all likelihood he will be used as a starting tackle when the Tigers open their season at home against Murray State on Thursday, August 29. There is a chance he could line up on the left side of the line alongside highly touted left guard and Oklahoma transfer Cayden Green.

If Bryant does earn a spot in the starting lineup as left tackle, the team's success will not rest solely on his shoulders, but his level of play will be an important indicator of Missouri's offense.

Zion Young, Defensive End

New defensive coordinator Corey Batoon has a set plan for how his edge rushers should operate. On one side is the boundary end and apparently the team's best pass rusher in what he calls the “wild card” role. On the other side is likely Zion Young, the tall field end.

Young, who stands 6'6″ and weighs 265, was one of the players most mentioned by coaches this spring. The Michigan State transfer, who had 47 tackles and 2.5 sacks in two seasons in East Lansing, was hailed as a prototype for what the Tigers are looking for on that side of the line, which apparently will focus primarily on facing what new MU defensive ends coach Brian Early called a “bigger anchor type.”

How Batoon plans to create chaos with his edge rushers will become clearer in the fall. Missouri's defense — particularly in the Cotton Bowl win over Ohio State — made a name for itself by harassing the passer. Johnny Walker Jr. was a capable threat for most of last season. Darris Smith, who transferred from Georgia, will split duties with Walker and looks to be a promising addition.

If Mizzou can get both ends in the troublemaker role, it will be a solid foundation for a CFP push.

“Zion is like a bull in a china shop, man,” Walker said during spring camp. “The guy is an aggressive pass rusher, an aggressive edge setter – just aggressive and a great player.”

More: Meet “massive” Chris McClellan, the potentially crucial new defensive tackle for Missouri football

Nate Noel, running back

The wide receiver room is shaping up to be the Tigers' goldmine. Tight end Brett Norfleet has added a new option to the Tigers' offense in his first year. Georgia State transfer running back Marcus Carroll gives MU a big, hustling running back going downhill.

But don't underestimate what Noel could offer this offense out of the backfield.

The coaching staff seemed impressed with Noel's agility and evasiveness in the spring. If Mizzou has a capable tailback who can change pace, it could change the dynamic of its running game.

More: A question every position group in Missouri football's offense must ask in 2024

Noel ran for more than 3,000 yards during his four-year career at Appalachian State. Of his 18 career touchdowns for the Mountaineers, five came from his own half. Ten came from the red zone.

Mizzou running backs coach Curtis Luper doesn't mind running with two tailbacks and compared Carroll and Noel to former MU star players Larry Rountree III and Tyler Badie.

One of the team's key offensive tasks has been better red zone efficiency. The 5-foot-10 back's tape shows his ability to make big plays, his outstanding speed — it's worth noting that Noel was part of a state championship-winning 4×100-meter relay team in high school in Florida — and a natural ability to run defenders into space, which won't hurt Mizzou's cause.

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