March 2, 2009

Spring preview: Tailbacks

The Missouri Tigers are set to start spring ball in one week. Over the next few days, PowerMizzou.com will take an in-depth look at the roster as we start our spring ball previews. Today, it's the tailback position that draws the focus.

The Favorite: Derrick Washington enters the spring as the clear-cut leader in the competition in the backfield. Honestly, it's not fair to call it a competition. Washington ran for 1,036 yards last year. He had 277 more receiving and accounted for 19 total touchdowns (two more than Jeremy Maclin). Entering his junior season, Washington is not only Missouri's top back, but a possible all-Big 12 candidate.

The Challengers: DeVion Moore will be Washington's primary backup. Moore averaged 5.6 yards on 41 carries last season and showed good speed and vision. True freshman Kendial Lawrence also enters the fold after running for more than 2,500 yards and 43 touchdowns as a senior at Rockwall Heath High School. In addition, former safety Gilbert Moye has been moved to tailback to help out the depth.

Things Could Change If... Either Moye or Lawrence is far better than expected. It would seem that the top two at this position are fairly set, but this coaching staff has shown it's willing to play a younger player if he earns it. Moye needs to show athleticism in the spring and really study the offense for August. Lawrence has an opportunity to play this fall, but if he's the fourth-string back, he won't.

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