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March 8, 2009

Spring Preview: The Pressure's On

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Spring football often focuses on young players set to break out. But spring ball can also be key for veterans looking to gain or maintain a spot on the depth chart. Today, we look at five players that need to have a good spring to earn time on the field.

Del Howard and Hardy Ricks: The Tigers lose two safeties from last year, but Kenji Jackson seems set to take one of those starting roles. The fact that the Tigers brought in two junior college players says there is some doubt on the depth chart. Ricks and Howard both enter their senior seasons look to grab a starting spot for the first time. If either one is going to do so, they need to make a major statement this spring.

Kevin Rutland: The Tigers lost one starting cornerback last year and Rutland is in a position to take the job. But Trey Hobson, Robert Steeples, Kip Edwards and Munir Prince all want to do the same. Steeples, Edwards and Prince all sat out last season, but all will provide a major push for playing time. Hobson looked good at the end of the year. Rutland must impress this spring.

Gilbert Moye: Perhaps it is unfair to put Moye on this list as he will only be a sophomore. But he is moving to tailback and will be one of just three scholarship backs on campus. DeVion Moore is a sophomore, Kendial Lawrence comes in this fall and the Tigers are sure to make tailback a priority in the Class of 2010. Moye's best chance to prove he's ready to play will come this month.

Mike Prince: Prince has played sparingly in two seasons. Most expect him to be behind Dan Hoch in the race for a starting job at tackle, but he'll have a chance to impress in March and April. If he doesn't start, Prince needs to at least grab the third tackle spot and avoid being bypassed by any of Missouri's crop of young linemen.

Blaine Gabbert: Gabbert is the only player on this list who seems likely to start. Again, perhaps it's unfair to put him on the list, but with two freshman who made the commitment to be on campus for spring ball, neither Blaine Dalton or Ashton Glaser has come to concede a spot. Gabbert needs to be good to grab the starting job. He also is in line to inherit the most important position on the field, so he needs to be good for the future of the Tiger program.

PowerMizzou.com's spring football coverage is sponsored by Pension & Benefits Live. Jesse Cox (stljesstx) and Tim Killday (Killer) would appreciate the opportunity to be a resource to you for company benefits and/or individual health and life insurance needs.



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