Missouri football took it easy Wednesday as training camp grinded through its third week.
That fact alone speaks to second-year coach Barry Odom’s growth as he guides the Tigers toward a pivotal 2017 season.
“With our strength and conditioning staff and (head trainer) Rex Sharp and sports medicine, I looked at our injury report, number one, and the number of reps that we’ve gotten up to this point and we scaled back quite a bit yesterday,” Odom said.
Instead of a full-blown camp practice, the Tigers had a walk-through, spent extra time in meetings and worked briefly in the weight room.
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“I think it showed today, because we came out and had one of our better practices,” Odom said Thursday as camp resumed.
It’s not a decision he would have made last year when Odom was so eager to prove toughness wins as a first-year coach.
It’s not that he no longer believes in toughness, but he’s evolving and wants to be smarter in his approach.
“Guys have really grinded through and last year I would have kept my head down and said, ‘No, we’re pushing through,’ so I’ve grown up,” Odom said.
Mizzou also will take it easy during Friday’s practice before the second training camp scrimmage Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Odom and his staff will zero in on the depth chart for this scrimmage, diligently doling out reps to players who’ve flashed in camp and those expected to contribute as the transition to opening-game preparations — and the first day of classes — arrives next week.
Moving on from Malik Young
Sitting inside Westport Flea Market for a meeting with the Tiger Club of Kansas City in early February, Missouri’s coaching staff didn’t mask its elation when Eastern Arizona College defensive tackle Malik Young picked the Tigers over Florida late in the afternoon on signing day.
Unfortunately, Young (6-3, 280) will never suit up for the Tigers.
“We got finally confirmation (Wednesday) that we’re going to help him go somewhere else,” Odom said. “He won’t meet the qualifications to get here. I hate it for him because he’s been patient and done a really good job trying to get everything worked out. … But he’s got a lot of options and isn’t going to look for long on places to go because he’s such a great person and a high-level player.”
The Gators don’t appear to be a viable landing spot because part of the issue is an SEC rule.
“It’s a combination of where he is with years in school and progress towards a degree and a conference rule,” Odom said.
After spending last season on the West Coast, don’t be surprised if the Marietta, Ga., native winds up in the Pac-12.
There are still two weeks before the first game, so things could change.
An injury could happen and other players certainly will join the ranks, but Odom is confident that four freshmen are going to play for Mizzou next season.
He said safety Jordan Ulmer and linebacker Jamal Brooks have shown enough in camp to merit a roster spot entering the season.
“And it would be really hard to keep (running back Larry) Rountree (III) off the field from what I’ve seen him do,” Odom said.
He later added that freshman Chris Turner, who is splitting first-string reps at defensive end with seniors Marcell Frazier and Jordan Harold, has earned a role with the defense.
“There’s some things on third down that he’s got a different gear than some other guys,” Odom said. “That would be another freshman that, if we were playing tomorrow, he’s going to play.”
Senior tight end Jason Reese (back spasms) and sophomore wide receiver Justin Smith (knee) were limited Thursday at Missouri’s practice.
Backup lineman Adam Roland also was limited.