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RCT Preseason Picks: Most Improved Defensive Player

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Did the sun come up a little earlier for anyone else today?  Maybe it's just me but I could feel a little bit of football in the air this morning.

Turner Gill's tweet of the day...

Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. -Lombardi

They don't practice today, but the players do report and at RCT we're continuing our preseason picks for our postseason awards.  Today we kick things off with the other half of our most improved, the defense.

John Williams

  • Williams moved from offense to defense just in time for a trip to Boulder and a monumental collapse. For his part he looked physically overpowering at times in the middle and created a push in the middle that had been missing.  If Williams can prove reliable for Kansas, it will go a long way toward answering some major depth concerns at defensive tackle in 2010.

Huldon Tharp

  • He was good last year and he should start from day one this year.  This is another one of those tricky ones where is a player really improved because he get's more opportunity?  At the end of the day that's a judgement call and that's why we vote and take all opinions.  If Tharp can take a solid freshman season and build upon it, there's no reason he can't be the best linebacker on the team.

Lubbock Smith

  • Again, stepped into a starting role mid way through 2010.  Just a redshirt sophomore he's the likely leader in the secondary. 

Justin Springer

  • During his freshman and sophomore seasons Springer was viewed as the heir apparent in the middle and one that had a shot at playing in the league.  A pretty devastating injury proved to be a longer setback than originally thought.  2009 Justin Springer was not the Springer of old.  If he can regain that form and find a little extra something for his senior year he could be the most improved and a comeback player as well.

Quinton Woods

  • Junior college players are always a tough call.  Woods was viewed as a pass rushing solution and that didn't happen in his first year.  If it was just a matter of a longer adjustment period then maybe Woods can be the speed of the edge this year.  If it's something else, he might be another over-hyped junior college talent.

Preseason Pick:  Justin Springer

It seems a bit strange picking a senior for most improved but Springer might finally be back to his former self after that knee injury during his sophomore year. 

A fresh start, another year to recover and the urgency that comes with knowing this is your last go might just mean that Springer can go from a backup in 2009 to a starter in 2010 and a potential leader on the defense.

In terms of the overall team makeup Springer's resurgence could be huge.  He's well respected a solid leader in the locker room and in a defense that needs an identity, he might just be able to provide it. 

Darkhorse Candidates: Anthony Davis, Phillip Strozier