Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Missouri's recruiting efforts have been as solid as any in the North Division over the last several seasons, largely because Gary Pinkel's staff had been untouched for the first eight years of his coaching tenure.
That familiarity helped his staff build relationships that enabled them to attract several unheralded recruits who blossomed as the Tigers claimed back-to-back North championships.
But the departure of offensive coordinator Dave Christensen for the Wyoming head coaching job will provide the first break in Pinkel's staff since he arrived in Columbia in 2001.
Christensen's old unit is also undergoing a major breakup as well. The Tigers will be missing the most heralded pass-and-catch trio in school history with the loss of quarterback Chase Daniel, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and record-setting tight end Chase Coffman.
Untested sophomore Blaine Gabbert will likely take over the starting quarterback position. Returning receivers will feature a cast including Danario Alexander, Jared Perry, Jerrell Jackson and tight end Andrew Jones. But other players are needed to add depth at the positions, particularly at flanker where seniors Tommy Saunders and Earl Goldsmith both completed their eligibility this past season.
The offensive line loses starters Ryan Madison and tackle Colin Brown, but should be in good shape for the future with six freshmen or sophomores in the final two-deep roster. Rebuilding the defensive line is a concern after starting ends Tommy Chavis and Stryker Sulak and defensive tackle Ziggy Hood all finished their college careers.
But depth is present after freshman defensive end Jacquies Smith and redshirt freshmen defensive tackles Terrell Resonno and Dominique Hamilton and redshirt freshman Chris Earnhardt all received work last season.
An infusion of new talent also is needed at safety, where starters Justin Garrett and William Moore both were seniors last season and top backup, Hardy Ricks, will be a senior in 2009.
The Tigers could also need some help at kicker where Jeff Wolfert finished his record-breaking career as a senior last season and Tanner Mills is in place to be his replacement.
It will prove a challenge for the Tigers to continue their mastery of the North. But if Pinkel can find some replacements for his departing stars, Missouri could be a factor in what should be a balanced North Division.