A big part of the Missouri offense returned to the practice field here Tuesday afternoon, giving the Tigers an evident boost physically and emotionally.
Having your 1,000 yard rusher back in your arsenal is always a boost to your confidence and spirit and that seemed to be the case for the Mizzou offensive unit. Derrick Washington, who had missed spring practice up until last week, returned today without a half red jersey, meaning he could go full speed.
"It's definitely great to have him back out there full speed," Coach Gary Pinkel told the media after practice. "All the guys are giving him a hard time about having fresh legs, they have been ripping him telling him he hasn't done anything for three months they should be fresh."
Washington was all smiles when asked about his return to practice without a half red jersey.
"It feels really good about being back here," Washington said. "It's exciting to come back out to this competition, go out and give it my all. I'm so glad I'm back."
According to Washington he injured his leg during the Southeast Missouri game and was limping a lot during the season but refused to come off the field. He rushed for over 1,000 yards, evidently not being full speed.
"I want to rush for a lot more this year," Washington said. "I feel better than I have in a long time.
Washington position coach Brian Jones was also all smiles when asked about Washington's return.
"It's always great to have him back at full speed," Coach Jones said. "All the guys have really stepped up this spring while he was out. I'm very happy with how everyone has done their part and the kind of effort everyone has given."
Having your best running back return isn't the only thing that Washington brings to the table.
"He such a great emotional leader for the guys," Coach Jones said. "He is very vocal and always pushing the offense unit to do their best."
"The players respect him so much," Pinkel said. "It's has raised the offense's intensity today."
Washington was quick to point out that another running back has been performing well for the Tigers this spring.
"De'Vion has really stepped up his game this spring," Washington said. "He has had a great spring; I'm excited about both of us being in the same backfield."
Tiger fans also appear excited about having the two talented running backs. Another talented runner Kendial Lawrence of Texas will also add to Mizzou's depth this fall, Lawrence will report to Columbia sometime in June.