Missouri junior running back Ish Witter remembers seeing so much potential in his former schoolmate at Alonso High in Tampa, Fla. — a senior pitcher who defected from Cuba at age 15 named Jose Fernandez.
Witter and Fernandez were three years apart, but the Tigers’ starting running back was awed by the former Miami Marlins pitcher. Fernandez died Sunday in a boating accident in Miami.
“It was a big shock,” Witter said. “He was doing real good in his career in the MLB and was one of the top pitchers, and you just never think of something like that happening. It (stinks).”
Witter said he’s not a huge baseball fan, but that he roots for hometown Rays. He also paid close attention any time Fernandez — a 24-year phenom with a 38-17 record and 2.58 ERA in his four-year career at the time of his death — took the mound.
Fernandez and two other men were found dead by the Coast Guard after the 32-foot speedboat they were riding in hit an unlit jetty off of Miami Beach and flipped during the early-morning hours.
Witter said news of Fernandez’s death hit him hard.
“I used to watch him; he was ridiculous,” Witter said. “To hear something like that, it’s crazy.”
A host of players sat out Saturday’s trouncing of Delaware State, many because of ankle injuries, but most returned to practice Sunday, according to MU coach Barry Odom.
Sophomore center Samson Bailey, who suffered a sprained right ankle against Georgia, and graduate-transfer running back Alex Ross, who sprained his left ankle against Eastern Michigan, both practiced Sunday along with sophomore wide receiver Ray Wingo (strained right hamstring) and junior offensive lineman Alec Abeln (sprained ankle).
Odom said junior cornerback Logan Cheadle (sprained left ankle) remains “the biggest question mark,” but he was a limited practice participant Sunday.
Sophomore running back Nate Strong (sprained left ankle) has impressed recently during practice and might be available against LSU.
“I wanted to get him in the other day, but it didn’t allow itself to happen,” Odom said. “He should be really close this week, but yes, he was definitely getting into the mix.”
Odom also clarified sophomore wide receiver Justin Smith’s left knee injury, terming it “a loose body in the knee that caused a little swelling.” Smith could return to practice by mid-week.
Carly Kan wins SEC award
Missouri senior outside hitter Carly Kan was announced Monday as the Southeastern Conference co-offensive volleyball player of the week.
It is the fifth time overall and first time this season that Kan has claimed a weekly SEC award.
Kan finished with a double-double in both of the Tigers’ conference wins last week, a pair of 3-0 sweeps against South Carolina and Mississippi.
She had 10 kills and 14 digs against the Gamecocks and 12 kills with 10 digs against the Rebels.
Kan only committed one attack error in the two matches combined as Mizzou ran its winning streak to six matches, improving to 11-3 overall and 2-0 in conference.
LSU defender suspended
The job for Missouri’s offensive line got a bit easier Monday with the announcement that junior defensive end Davon Godchaux had been indefinitely suspended.
Godchaux, 21, was booked Monday on charges of false imprisonment and domestic abuse/child endangerment, according to The Times-Picayune of New Orleans.
Through four games, Godchaux is tied for fourth on the team with 20 tackles, including two sacks. He finished last season with 41 tackles, including nine for a loss, with six sacks.
The Star’s Tod Palmer contributed to this report.