COLUMBIA — Often lost in the shuffle of National Signing Day are the talented in-state kids Missouri doesn't offer, but refuse to take no for answer. These are the ones who often end up as preferred walk-ons at MU, hoping they'll impress coaches enough to one day earn a scholarship, like Max Copeland and Tommy Saunders and several others before them.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
Now, it appears Lee's Summit West seniors Michael Holt and Kyle Morrison are just the latest seniors to accept that challenge. According to LS West coach Royce Boehm, both players were extended the opportunity to become preferred walk-ons at Missouri by quarterbacks coach Andy Hill, who Boehm says was thrilled to hear about their decisions to do just that.
"Andy was like, 'We feel like we just won the lottery with those two,'" Boehm said.
Perhaps. Both players had full-ride offers at one point and are still choosing to pay their own way at MU. Start with Morrison, who stands 6-feet-3 and weighs 280 pounds. He is a three-year starter who played left tackle this season and had scholarship offers from New Mexico and Northern Iowa.
"You pull up Kyle's highlight tape, and it reminds you of Evan (Boehm) a bit," Royce Boehm said, referring to his son, who started at MU last season as a true freshman. "He's got pancakes, he's finishing blocks, he's blocking to the whistle. He's got an ornery streak in him and you can't find a kid that works harder in the weight room. When he steps in there, he goes through three t-shirts before he steps out."
Holt, meanwhile, was arguably the Titans' most productive linebacker this season, despite the presence of Nick Ramirez, a four-star recruit according to Rivals.com who committed to Kansas State. Holt, who also lined up at defensive end and strong safety, finished with a team high 87 tackles, with 10 tackles for loss and 3 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles.
"He has that mean streak in him and speed, and that's what makes him special," Boehm said. "When I talked to Coach Hill about him, I said he reminds me of Will Ebner, and as soon as I told Coach Hill that, he said 'You know what? He does have that in him.'"
Boehm said Holt was committed to Indiana before his scholarship offer was pulled in December when the Hoosiers' coaches opted to take other players at the position instead.
Since then, Boehm said Holt - who is listed at 6-feet-1, 210 pounds by Rivals.com - has been killing himself in the weight room and is up to 228 pounds.
"He's getting pretty big," Boehm said, "and he was our fastest linebacker last year...all Mikey is talking about is wanting to get on special teams. That's where he knows he's got to start."
As preferred walk-ons, Boehm said both players will get to start summer school in June and work out with the team on the first day of pads.
Boehm, obviously, is optimistic that both players will take advantage of the opportunity.
"Missouri is getting two outstanding athletes," Boehm said. "One day, they will be - in my eyes - impact players."
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.