Former Missouri defensive tackle Markell Utsey is excited to be reunited with Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom after being recruited and playing for him in Columbia, Mo.
“Being a Razorback means a lot to me,” Utsey said. “Just being able to come home and play for my home state in my last year of college ball (is great).”
Utsey, 6-4, 295 pounds, was contacted by Iowa, Texas Tech, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, Memphis and other programs before choosing the Razorbacks on Sunday. He made 40 tackles and 4 tackles for loss in 42 games at Missouri.
Odom signed the former Little Rock Parkview Patriot for the Tigers in 2016.
“I honestly feel like if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be at Mizzou,” Utsey said. “Just to get that second opportunity to be a player for my home state, it means a lot to me and it shows me his loyalty and his confidence in me.
"It just makes me want to play for a guy like that, just going out there and balling for him.”
As a senior, he had 19 tackles, including 16 unassisted tackles and a tackle for a loss for Missouri. He entered the NCAA transfer portal on April 16 and will take advantage of the NCAA allowing an extra year of eligibility because of the covid-19 pandemic.
Odom has a great reputation in coaching circles, and that also applies to his players.
“He’s a dog, man, he’s straight like that. He’s a dog,” Utsey said. “He’s about his business. Another thing, he really cares for his guys. A lot of coaches say they do, but he really does. He’s a good person. He’s a good coach, but I feel like he’s a better person.
"He’s straightforward with you and he’ll go to bat for you. That’s why guys love him.”
Utsey played in all 12 games as a redshirt junior and made 9 tackles and a tackle for a loss. He redshirted the year before after only playing in three games.
After several conversations with defensive line coach Jermial Ashley, Utsey said he had a good connection and believed Ashley cared for his players.
“When I talked to Coach Ashley I got a down-to-earth vibe,” he said. “I instantly felt comfortable being myself. We talked some ball. I feel like what he teaches is what I’m all about: just playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage and making plays and having fun.
"I feel like we see eye to eye on that.”
Utsey recently graduated from Missouri with a degree in sports management and a minor in business.