2010 Tiger Position Preview: Defensive Line

The Tigers look to control the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball

Columbia(MO) Missouri Tigers

Pre-Season Camp Depth Chart

3   Jacquies Smith  6'4" 250 (J)
57 Brad Madison  6'4" 245 (So)
55 Brayden Burnett  6'3" 240 (RSF)
93 Terrell Resonno  6'5" 295 (J) 
99 George White  6'4" 285 (So)
58 Brendan Donaldson  6'2" 295 (J)
94 Marvin Foster  6'2" 265 (RSF) 
90 Dominique Hamilton  6'5" 300 (J)
91 Jimmy Burge  6'2" 290 (So)
98 Bart Coslet  6'5" 260 (S)
38 Chris Earnhardt  6'5" 270 (J)
96 Lucas Vincent  6'3" 285 (F)
85 Aldon Smith  6'5" 255 (So)
18 Marcus Malbrough  6'5" 255 (So)
52 Michael Sam  6'3" 247 (RSF)
97 Kony Ealy  6'5" 230 (F)

Preseason All-Big 12 selection, sophomore Aldon Smith, headlines Missouri's defensive line as the Tigers head into fall camp. A Freshman All-American last season at defensive end, Smith set a single-season school record with eleven-and-a-half QB sacks, surpassing Justin Smith's previous record of eleven. During the off-season and in the spring, Smith continued to work to improve, and everyone associated with the Tigers would love to see Aldon elevate his game a couple of notches from a year ago.

Heading into fall camp, Aldon is joined in the starting line-up at defensive end by Jacquies Smith, a part-time starter a year ago. Heading into his junior season, the versatile and talented Jacquies Smith has worked hard to elevate the level of his play this year, as well.

Coach Pinkel likes to have five defensive ends prepared to play, and heading into fall camp, a pair of sophomores, Brad Madison and Marcus Malbrough appear to be positioned to be a part of that playing rotation. They will both begin camp listed on the second unit, and each of them saw limited, but productive, time on the field a year ago.

A trio of freshmen complete the competitive picture at defensive end. Red-shirt freshmen Michael Sam and Brayden Burnett have each shown flashes of their play-making ability in practice, and will each be in the hunt for playing time this fall. True freshman Kony Ealy is a raw, but extremely talented athlete, who some have compared athletically to Aldon Smith. Now that Ealy is focusing on one sport, and on one position, it will be interesting to see how quickly he rises up the depth chart, and how soon he begins to realize his immense potential.

The Tigers have depth in numbers at defensive tackle, but would like to see more quality depth emerge at this position. A pair of juniors will begin fall camp as the starters. Dominique Hamilton has moved to the head of the pack, and is ready to become an all-conference type performer. It was about a year-and-a-half ago that Hamilton watched Ziggy Hood head off to the NFL, and he realized that through hard work he could follow that path, as well. Terrell Resonno begins fall camp listed as the other starting defensive tackle. Like his work-out partner Hamilton, Resonno has begun to take on the physical appearance of an NFL lineman. This is a big year for these two juniors, and each of them are expected to elevate their play this season.

Just like at defensive end, Coach Pinkel likes to have five defensive tackles ready to play. Junior Brendan Donaldson and sophomore Jimmy Burge closed out spring ball on the second unit, but heading into fall camp, the competition for the remaining spots in the playing rotation are pretty much wide open. Sophomore George White opens camp listed on the two-deep, and is another candidate for the Tigers' playing rotation this fall. The slightly undersized White will need to demonstrate more consistency if he is to retain a spot on the two-deep.

MP>Burge and Donaldson appear to have really dedicated themselves to working hard to maximize their potential. Another pair of workout partners, these two have dramatically improved their strength and athleticism through the implementation of Missouri's strength and conditioning program. It will be interesting to see if either of them are able to translate all of that hard work into success on the field this fall.

A pair of freshmen, red-shirt freshman Marvin Foster and true freshman Lucas Vincent, appear to be strong candidates to each claim a spot in the playing rotation this fall. Foster returns to the field after missing almost all of fall camp last year with a knee injury, and then missing all of spring ball with an injury to his pectoral muscle. Prior to his injury this spring, Foster was listed with the second unit. He's slightly undersized, but possesses the kind of quickness and athleticism the Tigers' staff is looking for up front. Vincent comes in to camp with the size and strength to get it done. We'll be watching his development closely to see if he can give the Tigers some of the immediate help they need.

Senior Bart Coslet lends his brand of leadership to the mix, and provides experienced depth at the position.

Junior Chris Earnhardt, and walk-on freshmen Corey Sudhoff and Diondre Ellis fill out the depth chart.

Elevated play from Hamilton and Resonno is needed, and expected. One, or both, of the freshmen are needed to step in and produce right away. The continued development of Burge and Donaldson, resulting in their elevated play, or the emergence of White as a Big 12 caliber defensive tackle, would be a shot in the arm for the Tigers.

Analysis: While Aldon Smith is rightfully the player most talked about and mentioned as being able to play in the NFL, the Tigers have a couple of other players who have NFL caliber size and athleticism in DT's Dominique Hamilton and Terrell Resonno. The question will be how their play develops on the field. If it does then the Tiger defensive line will be a force to be reckoned with.

Jacquies Smith is a veteran who rounds out a solid starting four along the D-line.  The other players coming in have athleticism and ability but are untested for the most part.

Donaldson and Burge did a great job in the spring of providing what looks like capable back-ups in the middle. George White is listed as second and perhaps he can contribute to the mix.

What coaches and fans alike are waiting to see is if heralded red-shirt Marvin Foster can provide some help at the DT position. Foster has spent all of his time at Missouri on the injured list, but is known for his explosiveness and quickness off the ball.

Incoming freshman Lucas Vincent is another player that could contribute right away. Vincent appears physically capable and is more of what the Tigers need on the interior.

DE is a position that looks set and has some good young talent behind the Smiths. Madison and Malbrough both had solid springs as did Burnett and Sam.

True freshman Kony Ealy has similar potential to Aldon Smith coming in. It will depend on how his does physically and adjusts to college level competition as to how soon he sees the field. He reportedly arrived this summer at 219lbs but is up to 240 after concentrating solely on football.

Overall, the Tigers have the makings of an upper tier caliber defensive front should everyone stay healthy and play up to their ability.

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