Interviews with the defense

In this installment of team interviews, we talk candidly with Dedrick Harrington, Van Alexander, Earl Stephens and DeMarcus Scott about their position battles and how spring practices are going for them and the defense.

MLB DEDRICK HARRINGTON

Middle linebacker Dedrick Harrington is thankful the staff isn't tweaking the defense this off-season, as they did last. That gives him, and the rest of his defensive mates, plenty of time to works on the basics.

"(I'm) mainly focusing on what we are doing and doing it better. Just get the fundamentals down first and foremost," he said. "Go out there and try to fine tune."

After just three practices things are going well in that direction. "I think things are going well so far, we've had a couple of good practices, and the defense is working hard, and most of all, playing together as a team," added Deke.

What else is important for Harrington? "Film watching, and knowing what you are (supposed to be) doing," he explained. "Play as hard as you can even if you mess up."

LB VAN ALEXANDER

Linebacker Van Alexander's goal this spring is to work his way up the depth chart.

"I'm out here practicing hard trying to get better, and I'm learning new stuff everyday," he admitted.

"Trying to learn a whole new defense (to him this year), trying to get the hang of it. I'm definitely still in the learning stages, there is always something new to learn, but I'm starting to grasp it pretty well," he said.

While the winter went well for Alexander in bulking up, he currently weigh about 226-227 pounds, it also took it's toll in conditioning.

"Off-season workouts went well. The whole team worked hard," he said. "I've had some hip problems, but I ran in the 4.6's. It's okay, still nagging me a little bit, but it'll get better."

NG EARL STEPHENS

Going into his senior year, nose tackle Earl Stephens is being asked to help shoulder the load on the inside as the Tigers try to replace Attiyah Ellsion and CJ Mosley. Coming off minor knee surgery, Stephens is wearing a red-jersey, but feels like he is ready for his senior year.

"I feel good about it," he said. "A lot of things I've done over the course of the past year have gone real good for me. I've worked out hard, got done rehabbing, I'm doing fine, I'm great," he said.

How is the knee holding up? "I feel real good about myself, real good about it. I'm giddy, I'm ready to go. I have a lot to prove this year."

He appreciated working with both Ellison and Mosley. "I learned a lot from Attiyah and CJ, they are very good players. When you play behind them for two years you pick up a lot. I appreciate their help."

How different will this year be without those two in the middle. "No difference. I am a different type of player, I'm just going to play my game. Shouldn't be no change still the same coaching."

DT DeMARCUS SCOTT

DeMarcus Scott played defensive end in junior college, however, he is being asked to move inside at Mizzou. He says the move really won't affect his playing style.

"I had to gain weight, other than that everything is still the same. I still play it the same way I been playing. I just go hard, go hard and the weak side tackle is just like end, so nothing really changes as far as going against slower people," he said.

Other than the early mornings, Scott is coping pretty well with life on the Columbia campus. "I mean at first I had to get used to getting up, but after that it's (the workouts) have been no problem," he added.

Scott is listed at 6'2", 275, however, he plays closer to 5'10, 260, with a well chiseled upper body.

Scott came from Mississippi Delta Community College in Greenville, MS, and helped lure another defensive line mate here in Chad Marshall (who should arrive at MU this summer).

It will be interesting to see if the Tigers can keep that pipeline open. MDCC is thought to have as many as 11 D-1 players next season.


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