As Missouri prepares to head into Spring Football, ShowMeMizzou.com previews the tailback position.
With a trio of tailback prospects due to arrive on campus in June, this spring offers an opportunity for the coaching staff to get a good look at the returning backs. It’s also an opportunity for the returning backs to get better and to become more established in the minds of the coaches.
The Tigers return a 1,000-yard rusher in senior Russell Hansbrough, who will be the leader in the room and on the field. This spring, Hansbrough will be focused on getting better. The coaches know what they have in Hansbrough, so don’t expect to see a heavy workload for the starter this spring.
Besides, the coaches will want to get as many reps as they can for Hansbrough’s back-ups. They’re going to want to get as many of them as possible ready to compete at a championship level this fall.
The biggest question at the TB position heading into the spring is the health and availability of junior Morgan Steward. A healthy and fully recovered Steward would be a big boost to the Tigers running game.
If Steward is unavailable, then that means that sophomore Ish Witter will begin the spring as the primary back-up to Hansbrough. Witter improved significantly throughout the 2014 season, and he’ll be taking a lot of first-team reps this spring.
The next spot on the Depth Chart has the potential to be closely contested this spring, depending on Steward’s availability. With Steward on the field, that sets up a close competition between Tyler Hunt and Trevon Walters, at least to begin Spring Football, for the fourth TB spot, and the associated second-team reps. If Steward is unavailable, then Hunt and Walters are splitting second-team reps from the get go, and Walters could be competing for a chance to take some first-team reps.
Walters is a little bit different type of back than Witter, who is more in the mold of the backs who have carried the football for Missouri in recent years. For one thing, Walters is a little bigger. Had the Tigers known at the beginning of the 2014 campaign that Steward would miss the entire season, Walters may have played from the beginning.
Here’s kind of what the Depth Chart at TB will look like at the beginning of Spring Football:
TBs 32 Russell Hansbrough 5’9” 190 (S) 36 Morgan Steward 6’0” 210 (J) 29 Ish Witter 5’8” 195 (So) 35 Tyler Hunt 5’11” 215 (S) 20 Trevon Walters 5’10” 200 (RSF) 39 Miles Drummond 5’11” 215 (J) 40 Andrew Stevens 5’9” 195 (J) 46 Stephen Blakely 5’11” 225 (So)