Kaleb Prewett has been enrolled at Missouri for nearly a year, but he finally feels like a full-fledged member of the Tigers’ football team.
Prewett — a junior safety and Blue Springs graduate, who transferred to Mizzou from Kansas State last spring — made his Memorial Stadium debut with a game-high six tackles Saturday during the annual Black & Gold Spring Game.
“I definitely feel like I belong now,” he said. “I got the uniform on and all my people are here.”
Prewett is in line to replace Donavin Newsom as the defense’s Swiss Army knife, seeing time at strong-side linebacker, nickel and dime — primarily providing run support on the edge and covering receivers or tight ends from the slot.
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Prewett started eight games at safety for the Wildcats in 2015 before he was sidelined by a broken wrist.
With Mizzou, he said he’s no longer working much at high safety, but he doesn’t mind the new role.
“I’m always on the field,” Prewett said. “Obviously, there’s still some things I want to work out and do better on, but I think I’m getting back into the hang of things.”
Second-year coach and former Mizzou defensive coordinator Barry Odom was pleased with Prewett’s progress this spring.
“He’s learning, maturing, and he’s got a chance to be a great player,” Odom said.
Prewett, who did not travel with K-State for the Liberty Bowl after the 2015 season following his arrest for purchase/consumption of liquor of by a minor, shined on the Tigers’ scout team last season.
He’s shining even brighter now that he’s in the regular rotation.
“He’s an active playmaker,” Odom said of Prewett. “He’s got a good skillset that, if we put him in good position and continue to coach him, he’s got a good chance to really be a good player. He’s got to do it on a consistent basis.”
Prewett made an instant impression on his teammates, who continue to laud his performance.
“He fits in real well with the whole defense,” sophomore safety Ronnell Perkins said. “When he came, I was ready for him to play right away. … You always want playmakers on the field.”
Missouri junior quarterback Drew Lock is well aware of Prewett’s talent.
“He probably hit me the hardest I’ve ever been hit in high school football,” Lock, a Lee’s Summit graduate, said. “It was on the goal line. We were running the dive play … and they bit down on it, so I had to pull it on a dive play and he came right over the top and smacked me.”
Prewett said he remembered the hit, adding that he wasn’t sorry about lighting up Lock.
“Never,” Prewett said with a grin. “No apologies. Ever.”
Prewett had a scrambling Lock in his sights again during the spring game, but he knew better than drop Lock during the intrasquad scrimmage that annually signals the end of spring camp.
“They’ve got body armor on that man on this field,” Prewett said. “I’d probably be transferring again if I get Drew now.”
Prewett — whose father, Rance, played at K-State — said it was probably a mistake not to take an official visit to Mizzou during his high school career, even though it was his second choice.
“But it all worked out,” said Prewett, adding that he wasn’t unhappy in Manhattan, Kan. “I just thought it was the best move for me (to transfer to Missouri). I learned a lot at K-State under Bill Snyder and their coaching staff. They really set a good foundation for me just on work ethic and all that good stuff. I thought I could take my talents to the SEC and really thrive.”