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August 2, 2009
Five battles to watch in fall camp
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The Missouri Tigers open fall camp in five days and there are questions to be answered all over the field. A year ago, we could have named 23 of the possible 24 starters weeks before camp began. Not so this time around. Here is a look at five position battles we'll be watching when practice starts on Thursday afternoon.
Tanner Mills has the upper hand in replacing Jeff Wolfert, but it's by no means a done deal. Grant Ressel is in the mix and a couple of walk-ons could make things interesting as well. The fact is, every kicker on the roster had days in the spring where he looked like No. 1. But every one also had days where he looked like No. 3. Three years ago, Wolfert came out of nowhere to win the job in August. Who knows? It could happen again.
It seems a fairly sure bet that Carl Gettis will be starting at one point. On the other side, it's anyone's guess. Out of spring ball, Kevin Rutland was the leading candidate, but we've heard positive things about Trey Hobson this summer and the Kansas native may have made up some ground. Throw in transfer Munir Prince and talented redshirts Robert Steeples and Kip Edwards and there are plenty of candidates for playing time.
Like at corner, we know one of them. Kenji Jackson has a job all but locked up. Hardy Ricks is the current starter beside Jackson, but he's going to have to fight to hold that spot. In addition to Del Howard, two junior college players look to be among the leading challengers. Jarrell Harrison had a solid spring, winning the team's most improved safety award, and Jasper Simmons has generated nothing but positive reviews behind the scenes. It's anyone's guess who will line up opposite Jackson in September.
Jeremy Maclin returned every meaningful punt or kickoff for the Tigers the last two seasons. With him gone, this is the most wide open spot on the team. Here is a partial list of players who worked as return men in the spring: Jerrell Jackson, Jared Perry, Carl Gettis, Gahn McGaffie, Kip Edwards, Robert Steeples. Our personal early favorite might be Edwards, who looked very, very good in the spring, but there are plenty of candidates and the list is about to get longer with the freshmen added to the roster.
Starting Defensive End
This is listed last because, honestly, it doesn't much matter who wins the job. The Tigers have three guys who are going to get "starter's reps." But only two can start. Who will be the odd man out between Brian Coulter, Jacquies Smith and Aldon Smith. Again, it technically doesn't make much difference-Chase Coffman wasn't a true starter until his senior season-but it will be fun to watch the competition at what looks like the deepest position on the team.
Nobody will cover fall camp like PowerMizzou.com. We will have analysis, reaction, photos and video from every single practice leading up to the season opener. To get your free trial membership going today, justclick right here.