The Missouri Tigers open camp tomorrow. Over the last 25 days, PowerMizzou.com has counted 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.
1. Ziggy Hood
The vitals: Ziggy Hood is a starter at defensive tackle for Missouri. He enters his second season as a starter as perhaps Missouri's best defensive lineman.
Career so far: Hood played in every game as a true freshman in 2005, making 23 tackles, two-and-a-half behind the line of scrimmage. He became a full-time starter last year, but missed five games due to a broken foot. Still, Hood had 36 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles in seven games.
Why he's on the list: It's real simple: The major question mark this season is Missouri's defense. The Tigers actually played pretty well last season when Ziggy was in the lineup. Yes, it had a little bit to do with the level of competition, but not everything. When Hood finally got fully healthy at the end of the year, Mizzou held a strong Oregon State running game in check for the most part. The question is this: With Hood in the lineup, is the Tiger defense the one we saw in the first couple games of last year, or does Hood not make that big of a difference? The answer to that question, more than any other, will impact how good the Tigers can be this season. A defense that is even slightly above average could have the Tigers playing for the Big 12 title in December. A defense as poor as last year's will have the Tigers battling to match last season's 8-5 mark. Which will it be?
The rest of the list so far: