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February 21, 2011

Spring preview: Defensive line

Missouri opens spring football practice in just more than two weeks. Leading up to the first practice, PowerMizzou.com will give Tiger fans an in-depth look at the roster at each position. We will also have a series of articles highlighting some of the major storylines to follow this spring. Today, we take a look at the defensive line.


The Starters: Jacquies Smith returns to start at one end with Brad Madison likely to take Aldon Smith's spot on the other side. Both starters from the first half of last season return as Terrell Resonno mans one spot and Dominique Hamilton returns from injury at the other.

The Challengers: Jimmy Burge and Brendan Donaldson were the second-stringers last year in the middle, but the upside might be higher for Marvin Foster or Lucas Vincent. Of course, the biggest challenger may not be on campus until summer when Sheldon Richardson arrives. On the outside, you've got returners Michael Sam and Marcus Malbrough, along with redshirt freshman Kony Ealy, who is somewhat reminiscent of Aldon Smith in terms of athleticism.

Major Spring Storyline: Topping the list has to be the health of Hamilton. Missouri just wasn't the same defense once he went down. Is he ready to go from the start of spring ball? In addition, the redshirt freshmen may hold the most intrigue. Ealy and Vincent are two of the most talked about players that ran the scout team last season. Are they ready to step in and contribute immediately?

Coming out of Spring: The starters seem fairly set. We would expect Foster, Vincent, Sam and either Malbrough or Ealy to be running second-team coming out of April. But again, the biggest storyline here happens when Richardson hits campus. Where does he play and how does that change things? Stay tuned.

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