Story by Christian Clark, KBIA Sports
It almost looked unfair, the jump defensive end Markus Golden got on Toledo offensive lineman Chase Nelson early in the second quarter of No. 20 Missouri’s 49-24 victory Saturday.
Golden made a beeline for Toledo quarterback Phillip Ely while the Rockets behemoth senior right tackle looked like he was mired in quicksand. Golden smacked into Ely just as the ball left the signal caller’s hand.
Missouri cornerback Aarion Penton took advantage of Golden’s disruption, plucking the ball out of the air for his second interception of the season. Less than a minute later, quarterback Maty Mauk scored on a 1-yard run to make it 21-7 Missouri.
“He’s got three steps before Nelson gets out of his stance,” ESPN broadcaster Matt Millen said of Golden after Penton was taken down at the Toledo 25-yard line. “That’s unfair.”
The player teammates call “The Savage” is wreaking havoc during his first season as a starter. Through two games Golden, a senior, has racked up 2 ½ sacks and 16 tackles, five of which have resulted in a loss of yards for Missouri opponents.
The secret to Golden’s success is simple: at 6-3 and 260 pounds, he is a terrifying combination of strength and speed. On any given play, Golden can penetrate into the backfield by running either around or through his opponent. Golden’s speed forced the interception Saturday, a quality the senior feels he developed as a running back at Affton High School in St. Louis.
“I can move my hips real good. I can get up field fast. I’m fast for being a big man — 260 (pounds) and I can run like I can run. Playing running back helped me out.”
Golden also managed to register 10 sacks that year as well, primarily as an outside linebacker. An issue with grades forced Golden to spend a year at Hutchinson Junior College in Hutchinson, Kansas, before coming to Missouri in 2011.
Golden toiled on special teams during the 2012 season, but carved out a role as perhaps the most productive reserve defensive end in the country last season. He backed up current NFL players Kony Ealy and Michael Sam and finished with 6 ½ sacks and 13 tackles for a loss in 2013, despite playing approximately 40 percent of the Tigers’ defensive snaps, according to MUTigers.com.
“I’ve been working my whole life to be elite and working on my craft and getting better,” he said.
With the spotlight now focused on him, Golden has shined. After taking a meandering route to becoming a starter, “The Savage” is taking a direct route to opposing quarterbacks and ball carriers thus far in 2014.