At this point I'm past the shame of self-promotion. So read my cornerback article! Now!
Safety should be one of the most exciting positions on the team next year, definitely the best to watch on defense, so you picked the right position to preview with me.
Last year, the story at safety was up-and-down in Columbia. Pig Brown was one of the most charismatic and talented members of last year's squad, and to see him go down with a season-ending injury in the ISU game was truly heartbreaking. I definitely believe that had he stayed healthy and finished last year strong, he'd be playing professional football.
But on the positive side, William Moore stepped up and become a plain monster out on the field. I remember Moore prior to last season, and he was a similar yet different player. He's always had the ability to fly across the field and making a bone crushing hit, but last year Moore learned maturity and discipline, evolving into one of the best players in the nation.
With eight INT last year (tied for the NCAA lead), Moore showed his ability to make big plays, but he's truly best at laying down the wood. This leaves him, as one scout calls him, "the most complete safety we've seen in a long time."
Did I mention he played part of last season with a torn labrum? He'll be even better this year.
Starting at strong safety spot will be Justin Garrett, who made nine starts last season and will be good if not great. Garrett has decent size (6'2''), and proved that he can play at the Division-I level after playing two years in juco. If he can avoid giving up the big play, Missouri's last line of defense will be incredible.
Behind Moore and Garrett are juniors Del Howard and Hardy Ricks. Both have received field time earlier in their careers, but both have their limitations. Translation: they are perfect backups.
The Class of 2009 will bring in some definite talent at the safety position. Kenji Jackson, Zaviar Gooden, and possibly Kip Edwards (who might play CB or safety), are probably good enough to not red shirt, but might, just to save eligibility behind a solid cast this year.
Last season, two heroes stepped out of the shadows for Missouri at safety. If Garrett can become a star, or even be above average, while Moore continues to be one of the best safeties in the league, watch out for this position on the field.