COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri slot receiver and punt returner Johnathon Johnson was selected as the Southeastern Conference freshman of the week on Monday following his impressive performance against Eastern Michigan.
Johnson, a redshirt freshman playing in his second college game, finished with five receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown — a bubble screen he took 87 yards to the house — as well as a 54-yard punt return touchdown.
“I’m happy for him, excited for our team to have that recognition,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said at his Monday afternoon press conference. “Johnathon took a bubble pass and went, I don’t know how long, 80 yards or whatever it was. Guys did a great job blocking at the point of attack. And then on the punt return we had one block, out of a lot of missed opportunities. So he kind of did that one on his own.
“So, excited for him. I felt like last year he could have played for us but had the ankle injury. So seeing him come back and do some of the things that he’s already started to do this season provides great opportunity for our team. He’s an explosive kid that can take it from a lot of different places.”
Ross (left ankle sprain) and Penton (left shoulder sprain) both left Saturday’s game against Eastern Michigan and did not return.
“They both were limited last night in practice but I feel very confident that they’ll be out there full go tomorrow in practice,” Odom said.
Culkin missed Saturday’s game with a left foot sprain. He was not in uniform and could be seen walking the sidelines with his left foot in a protective walking boot.
“Culkin as well went through practice and will be fully activated tomorrow,” Odom said.
The Tigers have missed four-year starting kicker Andrew Baggett so far.
Freshman Tucker McCann, the player recruited to fill that role, missed two of his three field goal attempts in the season opener at West Virginia.
Against Eastern Michigan, junior walk on Turner Adams converted the first two point-after kicks but then missed his third attempt. McCann got the next opportunity, missed it, but then converted five PAT attempts.
On Monday, Odom was asked, if he had to make a 40-yard field goal to win a football game later that day, who would kick it?
“Can I get Tuesday or Wednesday at practice or am I kicking it right now?” Odom asked.
Right now, the reporter answered.
“It would be Tucker McCann who would go out and line up and do a great job and he would drill it between the uprights,” Odom said. “We’ll see how this week goes in practice.”
A year ago Baggett made 16 of his 20 field goal attempts (80 percent) and was good on all 15 of his point-after kick attempts.
Odom was later asked about McCann’s confidence level.
“Pretty high,” the coach said. “I mean, 10 kickoffs and 10 touchbacks, I don’t know if that’s ever been done at Missouri. So I’m excited about that. He bounced back after the miss and connected on the rest of them. I was proud of his effort.”
FRESHMAN PERKINS NAMED A CAPTAIN
Odom explained on Monday his thinking in selecting redshirt freshman safety Ronnell Perkins as one of the team captains against Eastern Michigan in what was just his second college game.
“I think it’s important that we continue to develop the leadership of our football program and of our team,” Odom said. “Every team is different. We get to travel 70 guys and I want every one of them to be leaders. We’ve got 114 guys on our roster right now and in some capacity those guys are looked to as leaders. Everybody has a role and we have to embrace that. If they don’t like their role they have to work to get to the next one.
“Ronnell had played so well on special teams the week before. Our team identified that and realized that. He brought a physical presence on special teams we were looking for. I thought he deserved it. He practiced very well and has done the things that we’re looking for in a leadership captain role. So I was excited for him. He responded in the right way. Our team was excited for him. We’ll continue to do that moving forward with naming a couple guys each week that have done the things we’ve asked them to do.”
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