Michael Scherer makes sure to look at the number taped next to his bedroom door as he departs each morning.
It’s an action many goal-setters cherish — seeing something and believing in it — but for Scherer, the “147” on the wall doesn’t solely signify the number of tackles he thought he needed at the beginning of the season to surpass former Missouri linebacker, and now head coach, Barry Odom on the Tigers’ career list (he really needed 150).
It represents the bond he shares with the man he says is “the best leader” he’s ever been around.
“Since (coach Odom) has gotten here, he’s been like a father away from home for me,” Scherer said. “I consider his family, my family. I’ve got a very close relationship with both of his kids, both of his sons (JT and Garyt). It’s just awesome that me and him could have the type of relationship that we do.”
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Similarly, Odom, who made 362 tackles in his time as a Tiger, spoke of his kids in reference to Scherer, who’d made 213 tackles prior to this season.
“I’ve got two sons, and if they grow up and they’re like Michael Scherer, then I know that I did something right as a dad,” Odom said. “He’s such an unbelievable kid, ambassador for our program, ambassador for the state of Missouri. He’s a St. Louis kid that could’ve gone a lot of different places, chose to come here and he’s going to be able to write his own script and do everything he wanted to as a student-athlete at Mizzou.”
Scherer, who wears jersey No. 30, said “it’s awesome” to hear that, but added that the script isn’t complete.
Last Saturday, Scherer had nine tackles against Georgia, which moved his season total to 25 tackles — good enough for fifth in the Southeastern Conference and just 125 shy of the sacred number.
Before the game, Odom had a conversation with Sam Pittman, Georgia’s offensive line coach who was at Arkansas three years prior, about the linebacker.
“I was talking to Sam Pittman,” Odom said, “and he said, ‘I wish you’d hurry up and graduate 30. … You sure you and Scherer didn’t play together?’
“When you’re a good player and you’ve played for as long as Mike has, you get some recognition, and he deserves everything he gets.”
Scherer is on pace to eclipse last year’s 93-tackle season, so what’s assisted his progression?
He attributed much to the coaching. Not only has defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross tweaked positioning and given what Scherer calls “new linebacker cues,” but thanks to Odom, Scherer said he’s improved as a leader, and senior defensive tackle Rickey Hatley attested to that Monday.
“He tells us on the field, like, ‘yo, I’ve got y’all,” Hatley said. “It’s really good to be able to trust (someone) back there knowing that if we mess up one time that he can fill the gap up. He watches film all the time, every day during the week. … He’s taken the role on (as the face of our defense) and I just trust him.”
Like the way Odom coaches, Scherer plays with passion. And after last Saturday’s loss, it meant a lot for him to see the agony in the eyes of his coach.
“You got to have a head coach that you’re willing to run through a brick wall for,” Scherer said.
Each time Scherer takes the field, he’s willing to do that for the father figure stationed here in Columbia. He’s willing to run through a wall for Barry Odom.
There’s just one requirement: He has to take a look at the “147” first.
Alec Lewis: @alec_lewis