Over the past two years, many aspects of the Missouri Tiger's football team have performed exceptionally. The secondary was not one of them. In 2009, defensive coordinator Dave Steckel and the Mizzou cornerbacks look to turn things around with one key feature: speed.
The most important player for Missouri's secondary this season will undoubtedly be returning starter, Carl Gettis. Carl notched 78 tackles in 2008, including 4 for a loss from the cornerback position. In the Big XII Championship, he recorded a team leading 13 takedowns. Gettis started 24 games over the past two seasons, and will be expected to start several more in 2009.
The two time All-Big XII honorable mention will not just be a cornerback, but also a leader this year. Gettis is the only returning starter in the secondary this season, and he understands how important it is that he step up as a leader. He has been leading by example as well as helping the younger guys out with different strategies and techniques all year.
Another likely starter at the cornerback position is Kevin Rutland. While Rutland does not have much experience, he was able to show how good he can be in limited playing time. Sitting at 6-0, 195 lbs. the junior has never started a game in his Tiger career, however he was credited with 25 tackles in 2008. Considering his lack of playing time at the corner position, it is also extremely impressive that he was able to break up 5 passes last year, two less than Weatherspoon's team leading number. Kevin is also one of the fastest Tigers on the team which will help lead to more breakups and interceptions.
Behind these two juniors is very little experience. Robert Steeples and Kip Edwards are both redshirt freshmen, standing at 6-1. The fact that they have not yet seen the playing field does not scare cornerback coach Cornell Ford. Ford insists that both of these players will receive playing time in the secondary not just at the end of blowouts, but in crucial situations. Both Steeples and Edwards possess the speed and big play ability that will make this tigers defense a very exciting unit.
Trey Hobson and Munir Prince are another pair of players that Ford says we can expect to see on the field this fall. Hobson is an extremely athletic player who is as fast as anyone and has a vertical leap of over 40 inches. Prince originally went to Notre Dame, but transfered back to his home state after things did not work out. He reportedly can run in the 4.3 range.
This group of young men will certainly keep Tiger fans on the edge of their seat this upcoming season. They are one of the fastest and most athletic group of players that the Mizzou secondary has ever seen, and they all possess the ability to cause a quick turn of events on the field. I predict problems for this unit, mainly due to their inexperience. They will all be able to jump routes for big interceptions, but they will also likely be left in the dust by a Colt McCoy pump fake from time to time as well. The cornerbacks this year will be very good, but I believe not good enough to handle the Big XII powerhouse offenses.
Position Preview: Cornerback
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