Missouri’s defense took a step forward in 2022. The Tigers’ defense ranked 34th in the nation last season. With multiple returning defensive backs, defensive coordinator Blake Baker will look to take his defense to the next level as the Tigers aim to compete in SEC play. Ennis Rakestraw Jr. and Kris Abrams-Draine will be the leaders for Missouri in the defensive backs position.
Ennis Rakestraw Jr.
Photo Cred: Mizzou Athletics
Rakestraw will look to build off a strong season last year by leading the way for the Tiger’s defense in the fall. As a redshirt sophomore in 2022, Rakestraw recorded 36 total tackles and 4.5 for loss. The defensive back also finished last season with 12 pass-breakups which was good for second on the team and 25th in the country. The West Dallas, Texas native had some big performances in 2022, including a four-tackle performance and forcing a fumble in the Tigers’ 23-10 victory over South Carolina in October.
Rakestraw also had a pass breakup, two tackles, and a fumble recovery in Missouri’s close loss to Georgia.The defensive back started in every game as a true freshman in 2020. In the following season, Rakestraw only made four appearances as he suffered a season-ending injury in practice. After bouncing back last year, Rakestraw will look to continue to improve and lead Missouri’s defense to the next step in 2023.
Photo Cred: Mizzou Athletics
Abrams-Draine will be a player to watch out for when talking about Missouri’s defense and the SEC as a whole. The defensive back recorded 48 total tackles and 31 solos just a season ago. Abrams-Draine also finished last season with 14 pass-breakups which was the second most in the SEC and tied for ninth in the nation. The Mobile, Alabama native came up big for the Tigers last year such as recording five tackles and three pass-breakups in Missouri’s 17-14 win against Vanderbilt and putting up eight tackles in the Tigers’ loss to Wake Forest in the Gasparilla Bowl.
The rising senior was originally a wide receiver before transitioning to defensive back in 2021. Abrams-Draine completed his first season as a defensive back with 37 tackles and a fumble recovery. The defensive back will aim to continue being a valuable asset to Missouri’s defense and help be a leader for the Tigers.
Photo Cred: KY3
Daylan Carnell made strides last season as he saw action in all 13 games. Carnell finished 2022 with two fumble recoveries, three interceptions, four pass breakups, and 26 tackles. The Indianapolis native was a valuable asset to Missouri’s defense a year ago as he made four tackles in the Tigers’ 21-17 loss to Kentucky. Carnell also recorded an interception in Missouri’s 29-17 victory over Arkansas which clinched bowl eligibility to end the regular season.
In 2021, Carnell made just four appearances and decided to take a redshirt season. Before arriving in Columbia, the defensive back was a four-star recruit and was ranked the No. 28 best cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com. Carnell played both cornerback and wide receiver in high school. After making leaps last season, Carnell will look to continue to develop and take on more roles in 2023.
Photo Cred: SI
Jaylon Carlies played a pivotal role in Missouri’s defense in 2022. Carlies led the team in tackles last season with 81 and had four tackles-for-loss, three interceptions, four pass breakups, and a sack. Some big-time performances came with Carlies’ strong season last year. In the Tigers’ 26-22 loss to Georgia, the defensive back put up 13 tackles. In Missouri’s victory over South Carolina, the Orlando, Florida native recorded three tackles and forced a fumble.
As a sophomore in 2021, Carlies started in 12 games and finished with five or more tackles in over half of the games played. Carlies also played in each game as a true freshman and earned three starts. The rising senior will aim to continue his strong college career this fall. Sidney Williams, Tyler Hibbler, Dreyden Norwood, Joseph Charleston, and incoming freshman Marvin Burks Jr. will also play critical roles in the defensive backfield.