Missouri Football: 5 Players Ready to Break out in 2012

Adam SpencerCorrespondent IMay 18, 2012

Missouri Football: 5 Players Ready to Break out in 2012

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    Though people like to bash the Missouri Tigers and say that they don’t stand a chance in the SEC in 2012, this team is full of talented players.

    With several returning stars, the Tigers will look to improve on last year’s 8-5 record, which included an Independence Bowl victory over North Carolina.

    In order to do that in a tougher conference, several players are going to have to step up and improve on their 2011 numbers.

    Let’s take a look at five Tigers who are ready to do exactly that.

5. Kenronte Walker, S

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    The secondary will be undergoing several major changes this year after losing Kenji Jackson (pictured here).

    Walker is going to be the guy that will have to take over the leadership role for his unit.

    The SEC doesn’t feature as many good quarterbacks as the Big 12 did, so Walker should be able to improve the Tigers’ secondary substantially in 2012.

4. Andrew Wilson, LB

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    Wilson is a tackling machine who will get a lot of attention for his strong play in the SEC.

    He had 98 tackles in 2011 and will look to get to triple digits this year.

    With running backs like Marcus Lattimore and Isaiah Crowell facing the Tigers this season, Wilson is going to have to step up his game.

    That’s something he’s ready to do.

3. Marcus Lucas, WR

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    Lucas emerged late last year as one of James Franklin’s favorite targets. That’s not surprising because of Lucas’s 6"5' frame.

    He had 23 catches for 414 yards and five touchdowns in 2011, four of which came during Big 12 play.

    He needs to step up and be a big red zone target now that former tight end Michael Egnew is in the NFL.

    If he can keep the chemistry he built with Franklin going this season, that shouldn’t be a problem.

2. Sheldon Richardson, DT

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    Terrell Resonno (pictured here) and Dominique Hamilton are gone, so that means Richardson will be the No. 1 defensive tackle for the Tigers in 2012.

    He was a very highly touted prospect a few years ago, so it’s time for him to show everyone why.

    He’ll need to hold his own against the big, bruising SEC offensive lines, but he should be up to the challenge.

    If he can keep teams from running up the middle against the Tigers, he and the rest of the defense will do just fine.

1. L'Damian Washingon, WR

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    Washington is a tall, speedy wide out who will stretch the field even more than Jerrell Jackson did in years past.

    He had 20 catches for 364 yards and three touchdowns in 2011 while backing up guys like Jackson and Wes Kemp.

    He’ll be a starter in 2012 and should put up plenty of stats.

    If James Franklin can improve his deep throws, the sky is the limit for Washington.