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May 3, 2007

Spring review: Linebackers

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As we continue our tour of the Tiger roster after spring football, we arrive at maybe the most interesting position. Just a year ago, numbers were thin in the Missouri linebacking corps. No longer. Mizzou now has nine scholarship linebackers on campus, including an exciting influx of youth. PowerMizzou.com takes a closer look.

The Starters: There does not seem to be much in doubt here, health notwithstanding. Brock Christopher will start in the middle. He will be flanked by Van Alexander and Sean Weatherspoon. Weatherspoon may have had the best spring camp of any defensive player on the roster. Alexander was strong as well, exhibiting the talent that has been hidden by injury for the last two years. If he can stay healthy, he's got a ton of talent. Christopher is now a leader on the team and is at the position that many thought he should have been playing for a while. As the middle backer, the junior from Kearney will have to be the heart and soul of this defense.

The Backups: Things get interesting here. Steve Redmond was the most improved linebacker in the spring. Thought in the past to be a likely career special teamer, Redmond came on big-time this spring and may in fact be Missouri's top reserve. Michael Keck comes on campus with all kinds of fanfare and there is almost no way he sits out his true freshman season. Some around the program have actually said Luke Lambert might end up a better player even than Keck. He is also looking likely to forego a redshirt. One guy could keep the shirt on one of the freshmen though. Connell Davis moved to linebacker midway through spring ball and immediately became the most athletic linebacker on the roster. Is this fall too soon to ask for a contribution?

Fall Camp Prediction: As we said, the starters seem set. Redmond is going to play. The main thing to watch will be whether or not Keck and Lambert both play. At least one of them will. But Davis and Redmond could preserve an extra year of eligibility for the other. Redmond can play in the middle or the outside. Davis is strictly an outside backer. It will be interesting to see how incoming freshman Tyler Crane performs and Marquis Booker had an encouraging spring, but neither are likely to push for much time this year.

Coming tomorrow: Defensive Backs

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