Well, we've finally switched over to the defensive side of the ball, but only because I'm done covering the offense. The last article I did covered the offensive line. Now we'll turn the tables and look at their counterpart on D.
Stryker Sulak and Tommy Chavis return at both end positions to give the Tigers some instant pressure on the perimeter. Sulak in particular has developed into a monster, with speed and tenacity leading to some major time in the opposing backfield.
Evander "Ziggy" Hood, a fan favorite for all four of his years at Mizzou, returns to hold down the defensive tackle spot. He has great size and speed for his spot, and has consistently been the most productive force on the line since Brian Smith. He's also an emotional leader.
The one big void to fill is Lorenzo Williams, who played nose tackle for the team. However, by the end of his career, he was splitting time with Jaron Baston, who will be back for his junior year. Baston has good size and experience, so don't expect a drop off there.
Essentially, this is the same line as last year, minus the emotional lift that was 'Zo. That being said, I fully expect Ziggy to take that leadership role this season. He and Sulak should be completely amped and ready to torment offensive linemen for their senior campaigns, so look for them to step up in particular.
Michael Keck is a young name that might be mentioned a lot this fall, and that name should sound familar. He was a highly-touted recruit in 2006, and he has finally landed at the defensive end spot (he had previously played some linebacker). He'll almost certainly be on the two-deep this fall, and seeing significant field time.
On the interior, redshirt frosh Dominique Hamilton and Terrell Resonno will be giving Baston and Hood plenty of rest. These two are a) completely massive, each standing at 6'6'' almost 300 pounds, and b) loaded with talent. The future looks bright for the Mizzou defensive line.
If it feels like every position for the Tigers has a positive outlook, it's because the team is very fortunate to return a lot of starters and experienced backups. The d-line is one area that I'm particularly excited about though, as Keck, Hamilton, and Resonno all are maturing into certain contributors.