On Tuesday afternoon, the Missouri Tigers took to sunlit Faurot Field in helmets and shorts.
Afterward, Coach Pinkel talked about day one of Spring Football.
“I thought it was a good practice,” said Coach Pinkel. “Our first two practices are just with helmets, so just a lot of fundamental work, I mean an extraordinary amount of minutes on fundamentals, which is really good. We have another day like that Thursday. That’s NCAA rules, which are good. Then, we have pads on Friday. I thought overall, it was a good practice. I was pleased with the effort. We just got a long, long way to go.”
There were a few injuries to report, per the media relations director. Coach Pinkel did verify that red-shirt freshman Tavon Ross will have surgery next Thursday to repair a torn ACL. It’s hoped that Ross will be able to return next fall. Coach Pinkel also indicated that junior TB Morgan Steward will miss Spring Football while he recovers from the hip injury that caused him to miss the entire 2014 season. Coach Pinkel said that it is hoped that Steward will be able to return this summer.
“Hopefully we’re going to get (Morgan Steward) back,” said Coach Pinkel. “He’ll sit out the spring. Hopefully by June one, our goal is that he’s a hundred percent, and we’ll get him back for this season. He’s had to work really hard to get back here. It’s going to take him some time.”
Junior defensive tackle Rickey Hatley made an immediate impression with the obvious results of his work in the off-season. He appears to be well over 300 pounds now, in addition to appearing to be well-proportioned and physically fit. He’s solidly entrenched on the inside now, lining up with the second unit behind fellow junior Harold Brantley. He looks like he’s ready to have an impact.
Coach Pinkel talked about the competition on the field.
“We’re always looking at every position,” explained Coach Pinkel. “We always evaluate the depth to get the best players up in the depth. And, we’re also looking for playmakers. We have to have guys on the football field to make plays. I think it’s really a combination of those things. We’re constantly analyzing every position. That’s what we’ll do tomorrow after we watch the practice, the competitive drills. We’ll go through every player on our board. Start the process, which is kind of cool. It’s fun to do. This is the first one of many, many practices.”
Coach Pinkel verified that there has been no discussion about moving Marvin Zanders to another position.
“Marvin Zanders actually threw the ball really well today,” explained Coach Pinkel. “Right now, he’s playing quarterback. He wants to play quarterback. He works hard. This will be a big spring. We’ll get a chance to see him (play quarterback). We all know he’s a great athlete. So it’s very exciting to see where he can come from.”
Coach Pinkel emphasized that youth is no excuse.
“On game day, you have the responsibility (to your teammates) to play at a certain level,” explained Coach Pinkel. “So we just start coaching and coaching and coaching. We have the expectation level that by the time we get to September, that hopefully we’ve improved and are ready to play. Then, it’s (about) the numbers, how many guys are ready to play?”
Coach Pinkel said that the decision on how many tailbacks they’ll play this year won’t be made until late August. But he did say that he thinks the Tigers will be in a position to have at least 3 TBs ready to play.
One other player who is standing out right away is sophomore safety Anthony Sherrils. Last season, Sherrils saw some action at safety, and was a dynamo on special teams. On day one this spring, the 6’0” 200-pound Sherrils lined up as the starting strong safety. He’s also listed as the number one punt returner, and the number two kick-off returner. So he’s not only positioned to have an impact, he’s been working hard, and is prepared to take over multiple important roles for the Tigers, who would definitely like to get his speed and athleticism on the field as many ways as possible.