Missouri freshman offensive lineman, Chris Freeman 6'9" 330, originally signed with the Tigers in 2009, but didn't arrive on campus until last August. During two-a-days, the big man struggled to keep up in conditioning drills. He developed a close relationship with Coach Ivey, and his staff, and has worked diligently to get into better shape.
During the early bowl practices, ShowMeMizzou got our first extended look at Freeman on the field since fall camp, and we were impressed with how far the big freshman has progressed. Freeman took a few minutes after a recent practice to talk about his first semester at Missouri. Freeman looks like he's in much better shape, and I asked him about that.
"I've lost a lot of weight," responded Freeman. "Just got dedicated, you know. Just started taking it a little more seriously. Really started to work out more, and just started to go a little bit harder, and just show more intensity, I guess you could say. Just trying to get down (in weight), so I can just start to perform more easily. Because when you're 380 pounds, man, it's like somebody strapped a piano to your back, trying to make you run out there. Plus, I just want to be more comfortable. You know, to be able to do more things comfortably, at a smaller weight."
In fall camp, Freeman was hurting during the conditioning drills, and he had to be held out of some drills because he didn't have the stamina to keep up. Now, he's able to stay with the group through the first half dozen or so sprints. I asked Freeman how it feels to be able to keep up with the group in the conditioning drills.
"It feels good," replied Freeman. "Because, it always feels good to see your hard work pay off. Because, that's been one of my downfalls ever since I was in the sixth grade. Just to make sure I'm in shape, make sure I'm in shape. And to finally see myself starting to slowly get into shape, it just feels great!"
In watching Freeman on the field, he's much quicker, and is able to perform with intensity throughout the drills. He's also improved with his technique. He's remarkably athletic, and has quick feet for such a large man. His arms are so long, that when he's able to get his hands on a defender, and extend his arms, the defensive player has to run a long way, just to try to get around him. It's obvious to me that having played basketball helps Freeman when it comes to setting up, and moving his feet. He's got a long way to go, but the dramatic improvement he's made in the first few months is very encouraging.
Freeman's been working at both right and left tackle, and has even gotten some reps with the third team offense. He said that he's more comfortable on the left side, since that's where he played in high school, but he's willing to play where ever the coaches need him. I asked him what he needs to work on to get better.
"Just my fundamentals," replied Freeman, "And, my technique, and my overall game. I'm still learning, you know. I haven't been playing that long, so this is still a learning process for me."
Freeman also said that he's going to continue to work on getting into better shape.
Freeman is very upbeat, and enthusiastic. He wants to contribute to the team in any way that he can. I asked him about his goals for the off-season, and his expectations heading into the spring.
"Just take it to another level," replied Freeman.