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Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Injury ends preseason position battle

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Missouri's secondary has to improve if the Tigers want to surpass their eight wins from 2009. A tight race at strong safety was ready to become one of the camp's main attractions.

Now an injury looks to have ended that race early.

Last year's starter, Jarrell Harrison, injured his knee in Tuesday's morning practice and he sat out the afternoon. Late last night, the team announced he'll have to undergo surgery on the knee for a torn meniscus, sidelining the senior until Missouri's Sept. 4 opener against Illinois at the earliest.

Meanwhile, junior Kenji Jackson, who entered camp as the starter, seems likely to lock down the spot over the next three weeks. Harrison could challenge for the spot when he returns, but it might take Jackson struggling during the season for that to happen.

Jackson has started nine games over the past two seasons, including five last year, when he had 41 tackles. He also started the final four games of his true freshman season and ranked seventh on the team with 62 tackles. Both of his two career interceptions came as a freshman.

Jasper Simmons looks to have a solid hold on the starting spot at free safety, and Missouri returns both corners from last year's team, Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland.

Rutland was named one of the team's captains this year, and had one of the team's best springs, snatching four interceptions in five scrimmages. That's a great sign for a defense that intercepted just eight passes in 13 games last season.