There will be quite a bit of competition along Missouri's defensive line, during spring ball. However, the Tigers' top guy on the inside, senior DT Dominique Hamilton 6'5" 300, will begin spring practice on the sideline, and may miss all of spring ball. He's still recovering from the broken ankle he suffered in October, and he also recently underwent knee arthroscopy to repair a meniscal injury.
I think the Missouri staff feels pretty comfortable, that when healthy, Hamilton is a very high-level performer. In his absence, opportunities are afforded to others.
Certain to begin spring practice as a starter is senior DT Terrell Resonno 6'5" 295, who came on in the second half of 2010 to earn All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. He provides experience and leadership at the position.
In Hamilton's absence, the identity of the other starting DT, heading into the spring, is much less certain. Junior DT Jimmy Burge 6'2" 290 moved into the starting line-up after Hamilton went down last year, but his starting status is not guaranteed. Sophomore DT Marvin Foster 6'2" 285, came on during the second half of the 2010 season, and will almost certainly begin spring ball either first, or second, string.
Senior DT Brendan Donaldson 6'2" 290 saw increased playing time after Hamilton went down last season, as well. He may very well begin the spring listed on the two-deep.
Junior DT George White 6'4" 285 is another candidate to assault the two-deep this spring. It's time for White to make his move. This may be a make or break spring for White, if he's ever going to become a force up front for the Tigers.
A couple of younger guys, RSF DT Lucas Vincent 6'3" 285, and freshman DT Gerrand Johnson 6'2" 285, will have every opportunity to begin climbing the depth chart. Here's a couple of talented youngsters whose progress will be closely monitored. Vincent could climb the depth chart quickly this spring, after showing very well in practice late last season. We're looking forward to getting an up close look at the promising Johnson.
Senior DE Jacquies Smith garnered Second-Team All-Big 12 honors for his outstanding performance last season. Smith has demonstrated a nose for the football, and for the end zone, during his Missouri career. He'll begin spring ball as one of the starters.
At the beginning of spring practice, the other starting spot will be manned by junior DE Brad Madison 6'4" 250, who stepped up and played very well last season, and garnered Second-Team All-Big 12 recognition.
Sophomore DE Michael Sam 6'3" 245, who played very well last year, is practically a cinch to begin the spring listed on the two-deep. He's a starter-quality talent, who is not content with second-string status. There's no question that Sam is a competitor, and he'll be pushing hard for a starting job.
Sophomore DE Brayden Burnett 6'3" 240 saw playing time last year on special teams, and is a fierce competitor, who will be working hard to climb the depth chart.
A pair of red-shirt freshmen, DE Kony Ealy, 6'5" 230, and DE Matt Hoch 6'5" 245, have already joined in the competition at DE. Ealy is an ultra-talented athlete, who also appears to be extremely coachable, and Hoch has just recently moved from TE to DE. Expectations are that Ealy will quickly climb the depth chart.
At the beginning of spring practice, DE Marcus Malbrough 6'5" 250 will be sidelined while he recovers from an injury. Malbrough needs to get on the field during the spring, or risks falling behind in the competition for playing time this fall.
A trio of walk-ons add depth to the defensive line this spring, including sophomore Corey Sudhoff 6'0" 230, sophomore Diondre Ellis, 5'11" 240, and junior Tim Struckhoff 6'4" 225.
This one will be fun to watch, as there is some real quality depth on the defensive line.
ShowMeMizzou.com Spring Ball Outlook
Since we know what we have with the veterans returning, I will be focusing on the young guns such as Ealy, Vincent, Foster, Hoch, Burnett and Johnson to see what they can add to the mix along the defensive line.
This is a good group of quality young athletes the Tigers have assembled along with the veterans.
All eyes will be on Kony Ealy for the most part. Most important will be the development of the young defensive tackles Marvin Foster, Lucas Vincent and Gerrand Johnson.