August 1, 2006

Tigers look to develop depth at LB

The linebacker position may be the most interesting and entertaining to watch this month for the Missouri Tigers. While Mizzou loses a starter and team captain from last year's squad, Derrick Ming should be replaced by a young player with potentially far more upside.

Two starters are all but set. Dedrick Harrington and Marcus Bacon will certainly hold down two spots. Atop the depth chart at the other linebacker spot is Van Alexander. Alexander came out of high school as a four-star prospect, but battled an injury in his first season on the field. Many have forgotten how dominant Alexander was in high school and it will be interesting to see if he can be as good now that he is fully healthy.

The biggest variable at this position is Harrington. He got much better as the year went on and played very well in the Independence Bowl's first half (he was the only one) before breaking his arm. If Harrington delivers on the promise he has had since high school, he has all-conference and NFL draft pick potential. If not, the Tiger linebackers will struggle again.

With the addition of Quran Barge, it seems far less likely the Tigers will have to play a true freshman at linebacker, but the possibility does exist. Sean Weatherspoon as drawn high praise in the summer and could be ready to be a contributor this season, but again, it probably won't be necessary. Weatherspoon and Marquis Booker will be worth watching to see how the Tigers can replace Harrington and Bacon after next season.

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