Sept. 21, 2011
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - When Brad Madison signed his letter of intent, Missouri knew it nabbed a talented offensive lineman.
But one of the Big 12's best defensive ends?
"He is one of the great recruiting stories of all time," coach Gary Pinkel said. "I wish we made that mistake more often."
The 6-4, 265-pound junior from Bethany, Mo., made only two starts last season in place of injured Aldon Smith, now with the San Francisco 49ers, but made the most of his opportunities. He led the team with 7.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss, and tied for the team lead with two forced fumbles, working his way into the regular rotation early in the season.
Now, he's a big producer as a full-time starter.
After recording a sack and four tackles for loss in a 69-0 rout over Western Illinois on Saturday night, Madison again leads the team in sacks (3) and tackles for loss (5) heading into the Big 12 opener at top-ranked Oklahoma. He also forced a fumble against Western Illinois tying him with Brayden Burnett for the team lead.
"I'm just trying to work hard every day and whatever happens, happens," Madison said. "I'm trying to come out every week and be more consistent that I was last year."
Like virtually all of the starters, Madison is fresh for this week's challenge. The Sooners are three-touchdown favorites to get revenge for the Tigers' upset in Columbia, Mo., last year that knocked them from No. 1.
Madison had only 27 plays against Western Illinois, compared to 60 or more during a normal game. Missouri allowed only 44 total yards and a single first down.
"We did everything almost perfect in that game," Madison said. "People may look at the opponent and say 'Wow, they're a bad team,' but we did everything right.
"We played a flawless game, I think."
A second-team All-Big 12 selection last year and a preseason first-team pick this year, Madison says the accolades don't add any additional pressure. The key, he says, is to remain focused on the task at hand.
Two years ago, the job was switching sides of the ball. After playing offensive line on the scout team his redshirt year in 2008, he moved over to defensive end in 2009 and played in 12 of 13 games.
"It was pretty big," Madison said. "It's a completely different game. But I played that in high school, so it was something I was kind of used to, so it was all right."
Madison was an all-state offensive lineman his senior year in high school and all-conference as a defensive lineman.
He's found a home, saying it was "definitely" the right decision.
"It's fun," Madison said. "You don't get to do a lot on the offensive line. It's fun getting a sack and getting back there."
Despite being a junior alongside three seniors on the line, Madison is carving a leadership role for himself through work ethic.
"One of the great things about him is his great motor," Pinkel said. "He has one speed, and it's flat go. It's a great visual aid for all our players, too. They see what we're talking about with 'selling out every single play.' That's what he does. Those kind of guys can make things happen."