The running back had a major slip in production from his sophomore to junior year.
It was a shocker to the SEC world, considering Roundtree was coming off a 1,200-yard breakout season in 2018. What a difference a year made for the North Carolina native, because in 2019 he had 39 less carries, 387 less yards and scored two less touchdowns.
Not to mention Missouri had a divided locker room with the offense and suffered its’ fifth-straight non-winning season in SEC play. Some Tiger fans even called the year a wash early on because NCAA sanctions had the team ineligible for the bowl season. When all the smoke cleared Barry Odom was relieved of his duties and was replaced with Eliah Drinkwitz.
Fast forward 10 months later and there’s a new vibe around campus. There’s excitement in the air and Roundtree has an opportunity to break school records this fall. The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder needs 1,542 yards on the ground and 20 rushing scores to become the Tigers’ all-time leader in both categories.
The stage doesn’t get any bigger for Missouri this Saturday, opening up the season at home under the lights against SEC heavyweight Alabama. Drinkwitz has yet to decide on will start at quarterback, which means the running backs are going to play a big role in the matchup with the Crimson Tide. Roundtree had 225 carries in 2018, so he has workhorse capability if push comes to shove for the Tigers’ offense
It’s no mystery that the three games Roundtree eclipsed the century mark in rushing Missouri won last season. Drinkwitz is an offensive-minded coach and Appalachian State was the 16th best in the country at running the ball last season. Roundtree could thrive in Drinkwitz new offense if the scheme is similar. However, the veteran back is comfortable rather he gets the bulk of the carries or if Drinkwitz wants to take a running back by committee approach.
The Tigers are four-touchdown underdogs to the Crimson Tide. Missouri likely will be in a similar role for the first three games this fall, considering all will be against top-20 competition. It’s not unfamiliar territory for Roundtree, because the Tigers have flown under the radar during his first three years in Columbia. Unlike last year, expectations aren’t through the roof. The Tiger fanbase is expecting some rebuilding and growing pains.
Still, that won’t change anything for Roundtree and he’ll approach every game with a winning mentality. The Tigers are scrappy and will play spoiler a lot in 2020. In hindsight, Roundtree not only could be a team captain, but also the face of the team and provide leadership to the Tigers’ roster in search of a new beginning.
Once the season is all said and done with, don’t be surprised if Roundtree is sitting atop the school’s rushing list and an All-SEC performer for the first time.