Freshman tight end Kendall Blanton already has been a head-turner at Missouri’s preseason football camp, if for no other reason than his imposing size.
Blanton, a raw but talented prospect from Blue Springs South, is listed at 6 feet 6 and weighs 230 pounds, but his teammates already think he plays even bigger.
“The last week of seven-on-sevens is where he really caught my eye down in the red zone,” sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk said. “When you’ve got a 6-7 frame like that and the way he goes up and gets the ball, that’s dangerous. That’s a weapon for us.”
Making the leap from high school football to an SEC program is a tough transition for any player, but Blanton has proven to be a quick study.
“He’s picking it up fast in the summer,” sophomore tight end Sean Culkin said. “He’s my little brother on the team, so I help him.”
Culkin offers advice on route running, getting his steps right on blocking and other intricacies of the position.
“He’s not a big talker, but you can see that he’s listening,” Culkin said. “When we do it the next time, he’s really trying to make it right. That’s one thing that’s really cool about him. He’s got a great attitude and wants to get better. He’s pretty raw, but I can see a lot of potential in him. He’s a big, big target and I think he’s going to have a good future at Mizzou.”
Starting right tackle Connor McGovern, a junior, said his strained pectoral muscle is healing fine.
“I should be back within the week or next week,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot of treatment, so it’s good. It’s definitely strong.”
McGovern and strong safety Braylon Webb were the only two players limited during the first few days of Missouri’s preseason training camp.
McGovern, who is converting from right guard to right tackle, doesn’t think the injury will hamper his progress — at least not after the work he got in during spring football.
“Spring ball going against Markus Golden, that’ll make anybody acclimate pretty fast to any position with a guy going like that,” McGovern said. “I feel great. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to get my pec 100 percent and ready to get out there.”
Most interesting QB?
Mauk was asked about his growing persona on social media, which includes a slew of photoshopped images depicting him as a secret agent or playing off Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” ad campaign.
He seems to be taking it in stride, but the same can’t be said for his entire family.
“It’s pretty funny,” Mauk said. “The first thing, my mom called me. She was kind of laughing, but my grandma asked if it was real and she was kind of freaking out. Whoever made it? Congrats, it was good.”