Heading into the spring, Missouri Defensive Coordinator Dave Steckel can rest assured in the knowledge that the WLB spot is being manned by junior Zaviar Gooden 6'2" 225, who led the Tigers in tackles last season, and was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. The speedy Gooden makes plays from sideline to sideline, and provides outstanding leadership, as well.
Last season, the MLB position was decimated by injuries, and heading into this spring, the top two guys are still recovering. Seniors Luke Lambert 6'3" 230 and Will Ebner 6'1" 230 will begin spring practice on the sideline. It's been suggested that they'll both be back in there before the end of spring ball. In the meantime, opportunities are being afforded to others.
Sophomore LB Andrew Wilson 6'3" 225 is beginning spring practice as the starter at the MLB position. We've always thought that Wilson would eventually end up in the middle. We'll see what transpires when the two seniors return to the field.
RSF Darvin Ruise 6'2" 229 will begin the spring lining up with the first unit at the SLB position. Ruise is a talent, and it may prove to be difficult to displace him from the starting line-up.
Another guy who is recovering from an injury that he suffered early in fall camp, is sophomore LB Donovan Bonner 6'2" 240, who is expected to be on the field, when spring practice begins. Bonner is expected to begin the spring at the WLB position, behind Gooden. He's another one to watch, and a guy who, when he's healthy, could force his way onto the field.
Sophomore LB Adam Burton 6'2 230 is another one who is coming off of an injury-plagued 2010 season. He's expected to be ready to go, and will likely be backing up Wilson in the middle.
RSF LB Jared Parham 6'2" 220 worked at SLB all of last season, and is expected to begin the spring backing up Ruise.
While some of the injured LBs are recovering, and being eased back into action, a pair of walk-on sophomore LBs, Michael Brennan 6'3" 215, and Denzel Martin 5'11" 230, will have a black and golden opportunity to show what they can do.
ShowMeMizzou.com Spring Ball Outlook
Injuries to players like Ebner, Lambert and Bonner coming off an injury will give some of the younger guys without experience a chance to showcase their abilities and get reps to get better.
It will give Andrew Wilson a lot of time in what will probably be his future position after this season, and allow young athlete like Ruise and Parham the chance to strut their stuff at the strong-side spot vacated by Andrew Gachkar, who was extremely valuable in that position.
I am anxious to see Adam Burton healthy this spring. The opportunity is there for him to get a lot of work if he remains healthy.