Running back Marcus Murphy continues to draw rave reviews for his work as a slot receiver during the opening week of Missouri’s preseason training camp.
“Murph looks like he’s played (in the slot) his whole life,” Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said. “You know the great quickness that he has. … He looks very natural out there.”
Pinkel said Murphy, who was third on the team with 601 yards rushing last season, has shown excellent hands and makes terrific adjustments on the ball downfield, which can be an issue for some players moving to the receiver spot.
Of course, if Missouri opts to use Murphy predominantly in the slot, it creates a hole on the depth chart at tailback.
Junior Russell Hansbrough projects as Henry Josey’s replacement as the No. 1 option, while Murphy remains No. 2 on the depth chart for now.
After a strong spring, Morgan Steward, a sophomore from Staley, assured himself some touches in the Tigers’ three-back rotation.
However, if Murphy’s move becomes permanent, Missouri must address its tailback depth.
“We always like to have three running backs, so you’ve got Russell and you’ve got Morgan,” Pinkel said. “Now, what are we going to do?”
Pinkel praised junior walk-on Tyler Hunt, and sophomore Miles Drummond played well during spring football, but another answer might emerge from the Tigers’ duo of freshmen tailbacks from Florida — Trevon Walters (Bradenton, Fla.) and Ish Witter (Tampa, Fla.).
“The urgency for them to be ready to play is for certain,” Pinkel said. “Certainly, one of them, we need to get ready to play and we might need to get two to get ready.”
Right tackle Connor McGovern and strong safety Braylon Webb remain the only players restricted by injury during the first week of camp.
McGovern strained a pectoral muscle during pre-camp testing and Webb had surgery to repair the rotator cuff in his left shoulder after spring football.
“Everything’s good,” Webb said. “I’m just rehabbing right now, trying to be cautious.”
Pinkel said both players will be brought along slowly.
“I would think both those guys would be protected quite a bit until the first scrimmage, so I don’t anticipate those two guys going once (we go to) full pads,” Pinkel said. “They’ll probably have red on to protect them.”
Missouri dons full pads Friday and the first scrimmage is Tuesday.
Missouri’s Football Fan Appreciation Day
Missouri’s annual Football Fan Appreciation Day is slated for Sunday at Memorial Stadium.
Fans will have the opportunity to go on the field and mingle with players and coaches, who will sign autographs.
Players will sign one item per person, including the free schedule posters MU will make available to fans. The Tiger Team Store also will be open from 3-6 p.m.
Fans should enter through gates 1W or 2W. Gates open to the public at 3:45 p.m. and admission is free.
There will be free water available on the field, but fans are encouraged to bring their own sealed bottle of water. Afternoon temperatures are expected to approach 90 degrees.
Parking is free is lots A, C, D and G.