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July 31, 2007

25 Tigers to watch: #4 Stryker Sulak

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The Missouri Tigers open camp on August 4th, which is now just four days away. Over these 25 days, PowerMizzou.com is counting down the 25 players on the roster who will be most influential in determining just how good the Tigers are this season. To be clear, this is not a list of the 25 best players on the roster. It is not a list of the players that will have the biggest seasons or put up the best numbers. In reverse order, we are counting down the 25 players who we think could have the most influence on the outcome of the 12 games on Missouri's 2007 schedule.

4. Stryker Sulak

The vitals: Stryker Sulak will open fall camp as the starter at defensive end. He will be the pass-rush specialist among the linemen and will step into the spot vacated by all-time sack leader Brian Smith. Sulak is the fastest defensive lineman on the roster.

Career so far: Sulak has started 11 games and appeared in all 25 over the last two seasons. He had 38 tackles, four sacks and three forced fumbles in a very good freshman season. Last year, the tackles went up to 51 and he recovered three fumbles, though the sack number went down to just two.

Why he's on the list: One of the biggest questions, if not the biggest, is who replaces Smith as the guy who can pressure the opposing quarterback. If he was blocked one-on-one, Smith could beat just about anybody off the edge. If you have a player who can do that, playing defense gets a whole lot easier. As of now, Mizzou does not have a guy that has proven he can. Sulak looked like a great rusher as a freshman, but his play slipped somewhat a season ago. If he can get back somewhere close to the level he was at in 2005, one of the major questions facing the Tiger defense could be answered. If not, pressuring the passer could be a problem all season long.

The rest of the list so far:

25. Chase Patton
24. Tommy Saunders
23. Pig Brown
22. Tommy Chavis
21. Kurtis Gregory
20. Lorenzo Williams
19. William Moore
18. Will Franklin
17. Backup Running Back
16. Tyler Luellen
15. The punter
14. Sean Weatherspoon
13. Darnell Terrell
12. Martin Rucker
11. Chase Coffman
10. Danario Alexander
9. Adam Spieker
8. Dain Wise
7. Jeff Wolfert
6. Tony Temple
5. Brock Christopher

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