It turned out they added a reinforcement to the offensive line too.
Graduate transfer Michael Stannard, a 6-foot-2, 290-pound offensive lineman transferred from Memphis and became eligible this week after a delay in the paperwork caused him to sit out the first few practices.
“I had to sit out for a little while and that was a little frustrating, but being out there feels like the family I had at Memphis,”
Stannard told reporters following Friday’s practice. “I really like what they are doing here.”
A graduate of nearby Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Stannard started six games at right guard for the Tigers in 2014 and started one game at left guard in 2015.
Stannard could play guard, center or even tackle for Missouri, which lost offensive lineman Nate Crawford this offseason due to back injuries and is currently without reserve offensive tackle Tanner Owen because of an undisclosed issue.
Why did Stannard transfer to Missouri?
“As you know Coach Fu (Justin Fuentes), he left and went to Virginia Tech and I felt like I needed a change of culture,” he said. “I needed a new place. I needed to kind of start over. I knew Coach (Barry) Odom. He’d been down there with me for a while. I knew the strength staff. A majority of the defensive staff. I know them, they are great guys and they’re one of the best staffs that I’ve ever been around. That’s why I ended up coming here.”
Stannard said Barry Odom, now Mizzou’s head coach, recruited him to Memphis out of high school. The offensive lineman’s high school coach at Rock Bridge, A.J. Ofodile, is now Missouri’s director of recruiting.
“There were just so many connections here that I could take advantage of more or less,” Stannard said.
Missouri’s offensive line has received an overhaul since the final game of the 2015 season, with redshirt junior guard-center Alec Abeln as the only returner with starting experience.
Stannard actually has more Division I starts than Abeln.
“It’s good to have Mike finally cleared and in pads,” Abeln said. “He’s a good dude. He’s a guy who’s been there done that. He comes from Memphis, which we all like to pretend was like prison because of the way he runs around and moves and everything.
“Mike’s done a great job and he’s a great guy to have around in the meeting room, great guy to have with the line. He’s been there done that from a toughness standpoint, from an old-guy approach to it, he’s done an awesome job.”
Stannard said his experience so far with Missouri has reminded him a lot of his four years at Memphis.
“Very similar mindset,” Stannard said, comparing the two programs. “As you know a lot of people have picked us to be at the bottom of the SEC East and I feel like everyone here has a very big chip on their shoulder because of that. Very similar mindset. The programs are very similar. Period.”
Now cleared to practice, Stannard is looking for any chance he can to contribute to his new Tigers. His new team is happy to have him.
“Today was the first day with shoulder pads on, so that was good to get him out there,” Odom said following Friday’s practice. “Luckily for him he had been around some of the previous practices and was able to pick up some terminology and some of those things.
“So he fit in today and got a couple snaps there and he’ll be able to get some work in (Saturday) too. I’m happy for the kid because he had done everything that they needed to do. … He was out there today and did a good job.”
Missouri offensive line coach Glen Elarbee said, “He brings some experience, just a little bit of maturity to the room just because he’s a senior guy and has been with a successful program down there. It’s good to have him here.”
Stannard is happy to be back home in Columbia.
“It feels great, man,” Stannard said. “It feels amazing to be back home. It feels wonderful.”
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