Following the early departure of Henry Josey, Missouri came in to Spring Football a little thin at the TB position. The expected arrival in June of a pair of freshmen TBs from Florida should provide adequate depth at the position heading into fall camp. This spring provided an opportunity for a young TB to assert himself, and for some of the walk-ons to make a bid for playing time this year.
Starting TB Russell Hansbrough came into the spring with a shoulder injury that would require surgery following spring practice. But Hansbrough never made it through the spring, as he re-injured the shoulder and ended up having surgery before the end of Spring Football. The good news is that, while Hansbrough didn't get in much work this spring, he's expected to make a full recovery prior to the start of fall camp.
For the popular and talented Tyler Hunt, a local walk-on, this spring offered an opportunity to show what he can do. But, Hunt broke his ankle at the beginning of the spring and missed the entirety of spring practice.
Marcus Murphy looked terrific this spring! Last year, Murphy developed into a very reliable inside runner, to add to his previously demonstrated abilities as an outside runner and receiver. The difference was that Murphy improved what in running back vernacular is called "vision". He developed his ability to see the correct running lane inside the tackles, where there are typically several defenders in motion and little time to identify where to run. Another quality upon which Murphy improved was his ability to finish off runs. Murphy came up with an ankle sprain late in the spring, missed some workouts, and was limited in others. But in keeping with his improved ability to finish, Murphy closed out the spring with 9 carries for 38 yards on the ground in the Black & Gold Scrimmage. In three spring scrimmages, Murphy averaged 5.7 yards/carry.
A young TB made the most of his opportunities this spring, as sophomore Morgan Steward averaged 5.8 yards/carry in the three spring scrimmages. In addition, Steward displayed ability as a receiver out of the backfield, and as a pass-blocker in the backfield. While there were no real changes in the Depth Chart at the TB position this spring, Steward undoubtedly asserted himself as a ball carrier to be counted on this fall. During halftime of the Black& Gold Scrimmage, Steward was named as the Most-Improved at his position. Steward had impressed in the pre-spring testing, with a 4.35 forty, a 42" vertical, and a 4.0-second 5-10-5 shuttle. And, he continued to impress throughout the spring. Perhaps most importantly, Steward held onto the football. He can still improve his vision, and he also needs to finish off runs better. But he clearly placed himself in a strong position to play a lot this fall.
Walk-on Miles Drummond made the most of his opportunity this spring, as well. Partly as a result of injuries to other backs, he saw a lot of action with the second-team offense in the scrimmages, and he showed himself capable.
Coming out of the spring, Missouri's running game appears to be in good hands.
6 Marcus Murphy 5'9" 195 (S)
36 Morgan Steward 6'0" 210 (So)
39 Miles Drummond 5'11" 215 (So)
40 Andrew Stevens 5'9" 195 (So)
46 Stephen Blakely 5'11" 225 (RSF)
32 Russell Hansbrough 5'9" 190 (J) (injured)
35 Tyler Hunt 5'11" 215 (J) (injured)
34 Jordan Wade 5'9" 195 (S) (injured)