Three Missouri tight ends turned up injured Friday as training camp practice rolled on at Memorial Stadium, where the scene shifted due to overnight rain.
Senior Jason Reese missed practice with back spasms, while two other tight ends — redshirt freshman Albert Okwuegbunam (hamstring) and freshman Logan Christopherson (right ankle) — were limited.
“They took the day off today,” second-year Tigers coach Barry Odom said. “(Tight ends) coach (Joe Jon) Finley has been hard on them.”
He doesn’t believe any of the injuries are serious.
“I feel like if we played a game tomorrow, we would all be activated at that position,” Odom said.
That’s right; Mizzou might use all five tight ends in 2017.
Reese and junior Kendall Blanton are no-brainers, while Okwuegbunam has been a standout performer in spring practice and training camp.
Redshirt freshman Brendan Scales fits seamlessly into the blocking role vacated by Tyler Hanneke, while Christopherson has a special teams role at minimum.
“We’ve got five tight ends, and I think they’ll all play,” Odom said.
Scrimmage set for Saturday
Damp conditions at Kadlec Athletic Fields behind the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex forced Odom to move Friday’s practice, but he’s intentionally kept the team out of the stadium until now during camp.
“This place has got to get back to being something really special,” Odom said.
He hopes that will be the case for the first training camp scrimmage.
“Our guys are excited about the chance to compete tomorrow in a scrimmage situation,” Odom said.
The Tigers will start with some situational work then transition to more game-like conditions.
Odom said the game plan for the season opener Sept. 2 against Missouri State is set and installation started this week.
“We’re getting a jump on that, but also doing as much good-on-good work as we can throughout camp,” Odom said, referring to first-team members facing off against each other. “You’ve got all the time in the world now. Then, once school gets in session, things change.”
Defensive tackles A.J. Logan (concussion protocol) and Markell Utsey (shoulder) aren’t expected to participate in the scrimmage.
Sophomore wide receiver Justin Smith (knee) also is questionable after having a swollen knee drained Thursday, but sophomore safety Ronnell Perkins will participate in limited reps after missing most of training camp.
Reviving the ‘Bone’ package
Josh Augusta’s graduation doesn’t mean the demise of the “Bone” package, which featured the 370-pound defensive tackle at tailback in short-yardage situations.
“It's coming next week, and we’ve got a list — a long line of guys — that see the fun part of that,” Odom said.
He also cautioned that the package, and that position specifically, requires plenty of work during the week. Ball security is at a premium as Mizzou searches for Augusta’s successor.
First, the good news: Odom expects to have junior defensive tackle Rashad Brandon back in the fold next week.
“We’ve got to hear something on Rashad,” Odom said. “I think today is when they told us to be the final time. There's a deadline or whatever it is, so we're going to know something today. His seems pretty clear-cut. … I’d be shocked if he's not out there running around. I think we’ll get word later today.”
The bad news: Missouri isn’t sure when junior Malik Young’s status will be resolved.
Brandon and Young are both junior college transfers.
Brandon participated in spring practice as an early enrollee, but Odom said a subsequent NCAA review of his eligibility sidelined him for camp.
Young, a former teammate of Walter Palmore’s at Eastern Arizona College, is stuck in NCAA clearinghouse purgatory.
“With Malik, I feel little like it’s completely out of our control, this waiting,” Odom said. “At this point in the calendar year with the NCAA, we’re not the only school that’s waiting for answers. We’re patiently waiting and hopeful.”
Aside from the tight end trio, the only new injury Friday was freshman cornerback Terry Petry, who was sidelined with a strained hamstring.
Logan, Utsey and Smith also remained out along with Perkins.
Junior linebacker Kaleb Prewett (hip flexor) reappeared in a red pullover, but junior linebacker Terez Hall (leg) and junior safety Cam Hilton (hamstring) were full participants.