During the 2009 season, the Missouri Tigers primarily utilized a three-man rotation at DT, and a three-man rotation at DE. For 2010, the Tigers return two of the three at each position.
Juniors Dominique Hamilton 6'6" 300 and Terrell Resonno 6'6" 295 have each played both interior defensive line positions for the Tigers, and will enter spring ball as the starters at the two DT positions. Hamilton started 12 games for the Tigers last season, and registered 46 total tackles, including 5.5 TFLs, and a sack, and was credited with a safety and a pass break-up. Resonno started one game, and collected 13 total tackles, including 1.5 TFLs. The time has come for these two hard workers to take over on the interior of Mizzou's defensive line.
During the spring, the Tigers' coaching staff will be seeking the emergence, from among several young players, of the ones who will position themselves for the next 3-4 spots on the depth chart at DT for 2010.
Entering the spring, the candidates for the second and third-string spots include returning senior Bart Coslet 6'5" 260, juniors Chris Earnhardt 6'5" 270, and Brendan Donaldson 6'2" 295, sophomores Jimmy Burge 6'1" 285, and George White 6'4" 280, and RSF Marvin Foster 6'2" 270. Foster is returning from August knee surgery, and should be able to enter the competition during the spring.
Junior Jacquies Smith 6'4" 250 and sophomore Aldon Smith 6'5" 255 will enter spring as the starters on the outside up front. In 2009, Jacquies Smith registered 39 total tackles, including 4 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, an INT returned for a TD, 1 pass break-up, 2 QB hurries, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Aldon Smith collected 64 total tackles, including 19 TFLs, and 11.5 QB sacks (a single-season school record). Aldon had 5 pass break-ups, forced a fumble, and recovered a fumble. He was selected as a Freshman All-American and Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year.
Entering the spring, a pair of sophomores will occupy the second-string DE spots. Marcus Malbrough 6'5" 255 and Brad Madison 6'4" 260 each saw increased playing time during the latter part of 2009. Malbrough registered 6 total tackles, including 1.5 TFLs, and recovered a fumble. Madison was credited with one tackle, and 2 PBUs. Each of these hard workers are poised to step up into more significant roles for 2010, and build on their late-season success from 2009.
RSF Michael Sam 6'3" 240 and RSF Brayden Burnett 6'3 245 will, in all likelihood, begin the spring listed on the third team. Sam is the WSDE with the quickness to make plays behind the line of scrimmage, and Burnett, the SSDE, already known for his non-stop motor.
The Tigers expect the arrival in June of a couple of defensive linemen to add to the competition during fall camp. Of course, there's always the possibility of the Tigers adding depth along the defensive line by a player making a position switch, such as an offensive lineman moving to DT, or a LB moving to DE. At this time, I'm unaware of any plan for such a move, and it's unlikely that such a move would immediately impact the two-deep heading into spring ball.
While the Tigers appear to enter 2010 with quality and depth at the DE position, they are thin at DT, with only two established returning players there, and the competition for those back-up spots is pretty much wide-open.