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February 26, 2006

Tigers d-line looks to be loaded

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Over the last 11 days, PowerMizzou.com has taken a look at every position on the Missouri offense entering spring football. Over the next 11, right up to the first practice on March 9th, we'll examine the defensive depth chart. We start with the most loaded position on the roster, defensive end.

The Starter: Redshirt freshman Stryker Sulak was so good he wrestled the starting spot away from Xzavie Jackson midway through the 2005 season. He has all-Big 12 type talent and he showed it on the field last season. Sulak is the fastest defensive lineman on the roster, even faster than ultra-quick Brian Smith who will bookend him on the other side. With all four starters returning on the d-line, Sulak could be poised for a breakout season.

The Backup: It's not like Jackson was bad last year. He didn't have an eye-popping season, but Sulak took the spot more than Jackson lost it. This is still a guy that has started for most of the last two-and-a-half years. There isn't a coach in the league who wouldn't love having somebody good enough to put Jackson on the second-string.

The Spring Prediction: This will be fun. There is no player more competitive in practice than Jackson. He's not going to simply accept a backup role. There is no way the Tigers will come out of spring ball with a definitive number one at this spot. They may not have a definitive number one by the end of the season. Depth like this is a fantastic luxury.

Things could change if… Sulak and Jackson decide to give up football. Seriously, there's no way these two aren't the top two players at one defensive end.

Over the next three weeks, PowerMizzou.com will take an in-depth look at the two-deep at every single position entering spring ball.

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