Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Linebacker Corps a Hit with Smith

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Linebacker Corps a Hit with Smith

Article excerpt

As of Tuesday morning, linebacker Darryl Major, the seventh-leading tackler in Missouri football history, was only second-best at his position.

Ahead of Major, a senior, on MU's depth chart is sophomore Darryl Chatman. Such sudden impact is characteristic of Chatman, considered by many to be the hardest hitter on the team.

"They call him `Chopper,' because he chops wood: When he comes, he brings the hatchet," said associate head coach Skip Hall, whose duties include inside linebackers. "He is a real intense hitter. Absolutely."

Coach Larry Smith also gushes when he discusses Chatman, from Lutheran North.

"He's going to be doggone hard to keep out of the lineup," Smith said. "I mean, that guy is a football player."

Mehlville High's Major, though, is no slouch and probably will emerge as the starter. But Chatman certainly will nip at and nudge Major, just as sophomore Joe Love will push Major's sterling counterpart, Travis McDonald.

"Those four inside linebackers, we feel confident any one of them could start," Smith said. "We've told them, `What you did last year, what you did the year before, we don't care. We're going to line up in there and the best two are going to start. All four of you are going to play.'

"What's happening at that position is what I'd like to see happening at all positions. That is, the competition is right down to the wire. That's when the guys who are all-conference or All-American have to fight their rear ends off to be starters. When you get that kind of competition at every position on your team, you're looking at championship teams."

Chatman, 6 feet 1, 226 pounds, is built similarly to Major, 6-2, 235, who has 244 career tackles and is aiming for Darren MacDonald's school career record of 375. While his work ethic on the field has been impeccable, his level of commitment away from the field occasionally has been questioned. …

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