2010 Tiger Position Preview: Defensive Back

Much will be expected from the Tigers secondary for the coming 2010 season

20 Kevin Rutland  6'0" 195 (S)
7   Munir Prince  5'10" 185 (S)
22 Robert Steeples  6'1" 195 (So)
46 Tristen Holt  6'0" 185 (F)
19 Carl Gettis  5'11" 195 (S) OR
1   Kip Edwards  6'1" 200 (So)
21 Trey Hobson  5'11" 190 (J)
26 Xavier Smith  5'11" 180 (F)
31 E.J. Gaines  5'10" 175 (F)
13 Kenji Jackson  5'10" 195 (J)
11 Jarrell Harrison  6'2" 217 (S)
10 Tavon Bolden  6'2 210 (RSF)
14 Daniel Easterly  6'4" 180 (F)
9   Jasper Simmons  6'1" 205 (S)
17 Matt White  6'0" 180 (RSF)
30 Kenronte Walker  6'1" 205  (J)
49 Braylon Webb  6'0" 195 (F)

Missouri returns more experience in the defensive secondary than in any other unit on the field. The Tigers return three safeties with starting experience in seniors Jasper Simmons and Jarrell Harrison, and junior Kenji Jackson. Simmons retained his starting position throughout the spring, and enters fall camp as a starter. Each of Harrison and Jackson were listed as a starter at the other safety position during the spring, but it was red-shirt freshman Matt White who closed out spring ball as the starter. However, It will be Jackson who opens fall camp as a starting safety.

Another red-shirt freshman, Tavon Bolden, had moved up to the second unit by the close of spring ball, but opens fall camp listed on the third unit. Junior Kenronte Walker, a junior college transfer who arrived in the spring, will also compete for playing time at safety.

Two true freshman, Daniel Easterly and Braylon Webb, will each likely enter fall camp positioned as safeties, and they will each be vying for the chance to get on the field this season.

As you can see, the Tigers are deep and talented at the safety position, at a time when Missouri is likely to play with only two safeties on the field most of the time. In the past, Missouri has often utilized a third safety on the field during passing situations. But, it is expected that with three starting corners listed, the Tigers will employ three corner backs for their nickel or dime package.

Entering fall camp, the Tigers will likely list senior Kevin Rutland, senior Carl Gettis, and sophomore Kip Edwards as starting corners, with Rutland manning one side, and Gettis and Edwards listed as co-starters on the other side.

Coming out of spring ball, senior Munir Prince had climbed ahead of junior Trey Hobson for the back-up spot behind Rutland, and sophomore Robert Steeples was running third team behind Gettis and Edwards. Heading into fall camp, those two third-teamers appear to have switched sides. It will be interesting to see if the Tigers employ a third corner or a third safety when the second team defense is in the dime personnel package.

Mizzou has reloaded at the corner back position, as well, with the addition of true freshmen Tristen Holt, E.J. Gaines, and Xavier Smith. It will be very interesting to see how quickly these three talented newcomers can adapt to the college game, and to see if any of them can earn playing time this year.

This year's corners are the most talented and most experienced group to take the field at Missouri during Coach Pinkel's tenure. The real test begins September 4th, and continues for a dozen Saturdays to follow.

Analysis: The defensive backfield is the one area on the entire field that can probably stand to see the biggest improvement of any area of the team. The DBs will also likely be under the biggest microscope this pre-season to see what changes their are.

In the spring their appeared to be some technique and minor coverage changes, but this camp will be where we see any major changes in how the defense will do things differently.

It appears as though the horses are there with veteran corners in Rutland and Gettis, along with experienced backs such as Prince,Edwards and Steeples, who all say the field last year in spurts.

The same can be said for the safeties. The athletes appear to be in place, but the battle will be on to see who fills the spots despite vets like Jackson,Simmons and Harrison being back.

Matt White showed great improvement in the spring and was first string as spring ended. Youngsters such as Bolden, Walker and incoming freshman Webb and Easterly are all capable of competing to move up the depth chart.

Overall, improvement from the defensive backs will be needed for this team to reach it's full potential in 2010.

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