The Missouri Tigers open camp on August 4th, which is now just a dozen 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.
12. Martin Rucker
The vitals: Martin Rucker will start at tight end and will almost undoubtedly be one of the Tigers' captains this season. T-Ruck is not only a candidate for all-Big 12 honors, but one of the leading candidates to be a first-team all-American at tight end.
Career so far: Rucker was a first-team all-league player a year ago and contemplated entering the NFL draft. He is back for a senior season in which he will put up numbers that will surpass every other tight end in Tiger history…at least for a season. In fact, he's already got those numbers, with 119 catches and more than 1,300 yards. With 13 starts this year, Rucker will have started more games than any player in Missouri history.
Why he's on the list: Ummm, seriously, is this a question that needs to be asked? However, like Will Franklin, Rucker could be much higher on the list except for the fact that so much is expected of him. From a pure football standpoint, he is one of the top three or four players on the team without a doubt. He and Chase Coffman are nearly indistinguishable. We put Coffman a little higher on the list because he had better numbers in every category than Rucker did last year. However, we think that could very well benefit Rucker this season. Coffman has proven himself a huge threat and defenses have to concentrate on him (and the Tiger wideouts) more and more each week. The beneficiary of that should be Rucker. There is not a player in the league that can cover him man-to-man and he could put up some ridiculous statistics this season. In the end, Rucker came back for one reason: A Big 12 title. He will have a lot of influence on whether the Tigers can win one.
The rest of the list so far: