COLUMBIA, Mo. — New University of Missouri football coach Barry Odom was quick to criticize himself at the conclusion of his team’s first spring practice on Tuesday evening.
“I was a little bit sloppy, I feel like really, just honestly,” Odom said. “There were a couple times I’m coaching some spots, I’m coaching on special teams, I’m trying to give a little space on both sides of the ball but also find myself coaching. That’s good for me. I’ve got to more around a little bit and stay out of the way also.”
The first of 15 spring practices and scrimmages for the Tigers, who went 5-7 last fall in the final season under Gary Pinkel, started out on the turf at Memorial Stadium in the afternoon before a steady rain forced the team back across the street to the indoor facility.
Odom stressed the urgency for the new-look coaching staff, including himself, new offensive coordinator Josh Heupel and new defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross, with these spring practice sessions.
“The urgency for us is to be great teachers — that’s what we are. We’ve got to be on point with all the new schematics that are going in. Then we’ve got to find out who are the best 11, finding the best 11 on both sides and then our kicking game, to get those guys in the right spot to make sure that they are getting the number of reps they need for practice.”
POSITION SWITCH FOR HILTON
The biggest news out of the first day of spring practice was sophomore-to-be Cameron Hilton moving back from slot wide receiver to free safety.
Hilton started out at defensive back at the start of his freshman season, then switched to slot wide receiver and recored nine receptions for 129 yards in limited action.
Now, he’s back on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’re a little bit thin on that side of the ball and we needed to make sure we were getting quality reps with a legitimate player who we think can play,” Cross, the new co-defensive coordinator said. “He came right over, he’s starting for us right out the gate, but he has a ways to catch up because he joined us late this spring and in offseason workouts. So he’s a little bit behind the rest of the guys, but we feel confident with his athletic ability that he’ll contribute to us early and often this year.”
BRANTLEY BACK ON FIELD
Redshirt senior defensive tackle Harold Brantley, who missed last season after injuries suffered in a vehicle accident, was working with his teammates on the first day of spring practice.
“Brantley got some work today, which was awesome to see just from a personal standpoint from where he was last June or July, whenever that was,” Odom said.
Among the onlookers at practice on Tuesday were former Tigers' defensive end Shane Ray, linebacker Kentrell Brothers and wide receiver Bud Sasser. Ray just completed his rookie season as an outside linebacker with the Denver Broncos, where he contributed to the Super Bowl championship run, and is back in Columbia working out. So was Brothers, who recently returned from the NFL Scouting Combine and is expected to get drafted this spring.