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February 20, 2010

Spring position preview: Tiger linebackers

Missouri will open spring football in less than a month. Between now and then, PowerMizzou.com will take a look at every position on the roster headed into spring drills. We look today at the linebackers:

The Starters: Andrew Gachkar is a lock at one outside spot with Zaviar Gooden likely to flank him. In the middle, Will Ebner stepped up after an injury to Luke Lambert mid-season. Those three will start spring as the top group at the position.

The Backup Competition: Lambert will make a push as will sophomore Donovan Bonner, who evokes constant comparisons to Sean Weatherspoon. Do not write off Tyler Crane as a factor and Josh Tatum hopes finally to be healthy after a back injury short-circuited his much-anticipated first year on campus.

The Major Storyline: What factor do injuries play? And by that, we mean, how ready are Lambert and Tatum? Lambert was a long-time starter and if he's fully healthy is a factor to regain his spot. Tatum has plenty of hype, but few have actually been able to see him play. Will he be ready to go in the spring? If so, how close is he to the player he was that Missouri thought it had landed? Those two questions could have a lot to do with what takes shape this spring.

What Will Happen: Look for Ebner, Gachkar and Gooden to hang on to the top spots. Lambert and Bonner will play significantly as the Tigers continue to be very deep at linebacker. Tatum is too much of a wild card to know what to expect at this point in time.

PowerMizzou.com will continue to analyze each and every position leading up to spring football.

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