A decision on whether Missouri freshman quarterback Drew Lock will redshirt remains weeks away, but he’s made a smooth transition to the college level.
“He’s doing great,” associate head coach/quarterback coach Andy Hill said Tuesday when asked about Lock after practice. “His head’s not spinning. He’s into it. He’s in the playbook and he knows what’s going on. He spends extra time and he’s got great questions, so it’s not spinning.”
At Lee’s Summit High School. Lock won the Simone Award as Kansas City’s top high school football player last December. He was a prize recruit for Missouri and rose to national prominence with a star turn at the Nike Elite 11 camp last summer.
Junior Maty Mauk seems entrenched at the starting spot. He’s 14-4 in that role during the last two seasons, so Lock is unlikely to supplant him off one summer’s work.
That doesn’t mean Lock won’t be somewhere on the Tigers’ depth chart for the Southeast Missouri game Sept. 5 at Memorial Stadium.
“We’ll go through the month of August and get really into game-plan week before we start making decisions on where guys end up on the depth chart, if guys play or redshirt and that sort of stuff,” Hill said. “We’ve got a little ways to go.”
Kuligowski pleased with Beckner
Lock wasn’t the only high-profile 2015 recruit discussed Tuesday when Missouri’s assistant coaches were made available after practice.
Defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said he’s been pleased with freshman defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr., a four-star stud from East St. Louis who picked the Tigers ahead of Florida State and others.
“He’s a very physical player,” Kuligowski said. “He comes out here and is one of the best pass-rushing D-tackles that we’ve got right off the bat. I’ve been pleased with him. I really have.”
That’s not to say Beckner doesn’t have room to improve.
“He’s got freshman in him where he doesn’t know how to run to the ball and push himself,” Kuligowski said. “Really, he doesn’t know how to push himself to be his very best. That’s the thing that we’re trying to get across. If Terry is able to master that and get down all the game plan that we’re trying to do, he’s going to be super.”
Settling the offensive line
Missouri’s offensive line carousel was a wild ride during spring practice with players swapping positions or moving on the depth on a near-daily basis.
That hasn’t been the case during the first six practices during fall camp.
“What I didn’t want to do, like we did in the spring, is musical chairs,” offensive line coach A.J. Ricker said.
Ricker said Tuesday he won’t change the depth or move guys to different positions before Saturday’s scrimmage, giving everybody the best chance to shine at the position they’re currently most comfortable playing.
But come Sunday, all bets are off.
“There’s a lot of different moves we could make, but we’re going to keep these guys where they’re at — at least for the first scrimmage,” Ricker said. “After that, there’s some things we’ve got on the backburner that, ‘Hey, maybe let’s look at this.’ … I wouldn’t say catastrophic changes, but I’d like to see some other guys in some different positions.”
One player likely to shift is junior Malik Cuellar, a transfer from City College of San Francisco. He currently is senior Connor McGovern’s backup at left tackle.
“Malik’s a guy you can move all over the place,” Ricker said. “I think he’s good enough to be a starter, but obviously he’s got to prove that to everyone else. He can play guard, he can play tackle. Other than center, he can play both sides.”
Things should settle down again next week.
“After the scrimmage, we’ll see who’s our best five guys and then our next five guys,” Ricker said. “I’m really looking for 11 guys, the top 11 horses to run with is kind of what I’m told.”
Missouri expects Howell at semester
Missouri offensive line coach A.J. Ricker said he expects Butler (Kan.) Community College offensive tackle Tyler Howell — a Bonner Springs grad, who signed with Missouri in February but didn’t complete the necessary classes in time to enroll for the fall semester — to be on campus for the spring semester.
He also said it didn’t substantially alter the Tigers’ plans for the upcoming season.
“He would have helped us with some depth, but, at the end of the day, he wouldn’t have been here all summer,” Ricker said. “This would have been a long transition for him. Yes, we wanted him here. I’m not saying that, by any means, but getting him at semester where at least he can get a winter conditioning (is good), because it’s a culture shock now.”
Bauer sidelined with hip surgery
Missouri redshirt freshman left guard Andy Bauer underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip in June.
Bauer — a four-star recruit from De Smet High in St. Louis and the No. 8 guard in the 2014 recruiting class, according to Rivals — missed his senior season in high school after a similar procedure on his right hip.
“He’s doing some individual (drills) right now,” Ricker said. “He just can’t do team, but he’s moving around great and he’ll have a shot once he’s healthy.”
That clearance could come as early as next week.
Bauer (6-3, 310) is currently listed third on the Tigers’ depth chart behind seniors Taylor Chappell and Brad McNulty.
Freshman Harris shifts to center
During fall camp, freshman offensive lineman A.J. Harris has been working at center. He primarily played tackle at Blue Valley, where he graduated in the spring.
But Ricker sees a bit of Evan Boehm in Harris’ game.
“He’s a little bit wider,” Ricker said. “I think he can play guard too, honestly. I’m not saying center is his position.”
The versatility can’t hurt for Harris, who’s still feeling his way through the transition.
“Snapping the ball, we’ve got to get the ball off the ground a little bit, but he’s tough kid and he’s a hard worker,” Ricker said. “He’ll find a way to get on the field. Not now, he’s got a lot of develop to do, but he’s the demeanor you want in an O-lineman — tough.”
Redshirt freshman Sam Bailey also moved to center.
“That kid’s super athletic and plays with leverage,” Ricker said. “That will be a good battle as time goes on, who’s going to take that job.”
Ricker also said Boehm’s backup, sophomore Alec Abeln, has progressed tremendously from last season.
“We’ve got some guys there at center for the years to come,” Ricker said.