With only four starters returning to the defense from last season and only one from the line, Jaron Baston knows that he must step up as a leader this season. The senior is very excited about the season, as well as his new role.
"I hope that players are looking up to me, that is a role that I want to have," Baston said about becoming a leader. It seems like leadership is an important part of the game to him, and he wants to put the team on his shoulders.
Jaron did not wait for the spring practices to begin to step into this role either. "During the offseason I took it into my own hands to make sure that they were looking towards me for leadership and looking towards me to become better," He continued about his younger teammates.
When it comes to the Defensive line this season, Baston will be the only returning starter. He personally plans to make sure that they will not miss a beat.
"I'm focusing on each one of my guys on the defensive line individually," the senior said. "I'll pull them aside, tell them do this, try this out, just being more of an individual person to them."
But it does not just stop at the line for Jaron. "As far as the whole defense I'm trying to install a mentality into the whole defense. Just dominate, be enthusiastic, and go all out."
This enthusiastic, all out mentality that Jaron is focusing on bringing to the team may in part be due to the new defensive coordinator, Dave Steckel.
"I liked his defense today, it was loud, it was enthusiastic, and he knows what he wants to do. If you do not want to do it, than he doesn't need you on this defense," he said about the first practice. "It's straight to the point, it's simple, it's fun, and it's hardcore. Thats how he likes it and how I like it so lets go."
"I guarantee that there will be a change in attitude," Baston said about the change in coaches. "We're going to line up and play smash mouth football. We're not going to try and trick many people, we'll just line up and dare anybody to stop us."
When I asked the senior about the potential for this season to be a rebuilding year, he staunchly disagreed.
"We know that we have got a lot of youth, but we have got a lot of youth with experience. We've got a lot of guys anxious to become better. We've got a lot of guys anxious to prove themselves. When you've got that and you've got a close team that is a family, you have no choice but to be successful."
The confidence of Jaron's words has shown through his play during the spring practices thus far. His confidence can make even the staunchest of critics believers, and even the youngest of players stars.
With Jaron Baston along side Sean Weatherspoon taking this defense into their hands, I have no doubt that Mizzou will be great this year.
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