Defensive end Marcell Frazier earned more reps with his performance during the initial scrimmage of fall camp.
Frazier — a Portland, Ore., native who came to Missouri as a junior-college transfer from College of the Siskiyous in California — was the most productive defensive lineman during the scrimmage and now will get a chance to work with the first-string defense as a result.
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“When we looked at the scrimmage — these guys get points for making tackles, making plays and forcing quarterback hurries and making sacks and all that kind of stuff — he got the most points on the D-line in terms of production,” Tigers defensive-line coach Craig Kuligowski said. “It’s hard to ignore that fact.”
Frazier and redshirt freshman Walter Brady are neck-and-neck for the starting job at left defensive end opposite sophomore Charles Harris.
“It’s a great battle, and that’s what we want,” Kuligowski said. “We want a good battle at every position.”
It’s also impressive for Frazier, who didn’t arrive in Columbia until midsummer as he finished up classes at junior college.
“He’s really very competitive, and it’s really neat to see him compete …,” MU coach Gary Pinkel said. “Sometimes junior-college players come in and don’t compete quite like that … but he’s a really focused guy. A little bit like Markus Golden, he came in and just embraced our program. We’re very detailed how we do things. We’ve got a plan for everything. And you’ve got to come in and do it our way, because our way works. He just jumped on it.”
Kuligowski said Frazier — who is listed at 6 feet, 5 inches and 265 pounds on the camp roster — must learn to play with a better pad level and is still learning the intricacies of Missouri’s defense, like where he should go on stunts.
“Those kinds of things will make him a better player …” Kuligowski said. “He’s a serious football guy. He wants to be a great football player, and really that’s the key to success — wanting to be great. Every guy that I’ve had here that been a really good player wanted to be the very best. They didn’t want to be good. They didn’t want to be OK. They wanted to be the very best. The best there ever was. ‘What’s the record? I want to break it.’ ”
Pump brakes on Lock’s Heisman campaign
Tigers associate head coach/quarterbacks coach Andy Hill wants to make sure fans don’t get ahead of themselves with respect to freshman quarterback Drew Lock, especially as it relates to comparisons with Chase Daniel.
“Drew’s done some great things, but he’s got a long ways to go,” Hill said. “Chase Daniel was a standard-setter for Missouri in a lot of ways. Drew’s been out here, for what, 11 practices or something like that.”
Lock, a Lee’s Summit graduate and the reigning Simone Award winner, has a bright future, but it might not be an immediate future.
“He did some real nice things,” Hill said. “Obviously, he threw the ball well and he got rid of the ball and got out of trouble. He missed some easy reads there early, too. … We’re keeping a level head about how guys can play. He’s into it, being a good football player, but he has a long ways to go to be competitive, especially against a No. 1 or No. 2 defense. Against a No. 3 or No. 4 defense, it’s a little bit different.”
Freshman wide receiver Johnathon Johnson suffered a severely sprained ankle during Saturday’s scrimmage and is out indefinitely.
During a 2-minute drill late in the scrimmage, Johnson caught a deep ball over the middle and dashed to the 6-yard line before he was hurt by senior cornerback DeAndre McKenzie’s ankle tackle.
Johnson put together a strong performance before being carted off with four catches for 90 yards, including 64 yards on the play he was injured.
“He was playing the best,” Pinkel said. “We have a good, young receiving corps, but that was a hit. He was really doing well. But that the way it is (sophomore wide receiver) J’Mon (Moore) hurt his (left) shoulder today. Sometimes, that happens.”
Redshirt freshman Tavon Ross, who also left Saturday’s scrimmage, is day-to-day because of a sprained shoulder.
Meanwhile, senior kicker Andrew Baggett remains sidelined by back spasms, while junior wide receiver Eric Laurent is out because of a viral infection.
Finally, junior running back Morgan Steward also sat out after totaling nine carries for 17 yards and three receptions for 14 yards during Saturday’s scrimmage.
Missouri said it was a regularly scheduled day of rest for Steward, who missed last season because of a hip injury that eventually required surgery in November.
There also was good news as redshirt freshman offensive lineman Andy Bauer (hip) returned to action after being limited through the first 10 practices after surgery in June to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.
Senior safety Ian Simon (hamstring) and freshman wide receivers Richaud Floyd (ribs) and Thomas Richard (hamstring) also returned at least in a limited capacity.
Freshman decisions on hold
Missouri already has several true freshmen in mind who are expected to make the 2015 game-day roster.
Defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. worked with the second-team defense through most of Saturday’s scrimmage and seems like a safe bet to make the roster, but Pinkel isn’t tipping his hand.
“There’s a few we have (decided will play), but we’re not going to announce that until the end,” Pinkel said. “All these freshmen are competing to do it, but I think there’s names you write down here and there. … We’ll make the final decisions on those things a week from next Thursday (Aug. 27), so there’s nothing finalized. But we have an idea about certain guys that are probably going to be playing.”
Eierman moves to receiver
Missouri thinned out its quarterback ranks by shifting redshirt freshman John Eierman to wide receiver.
“He moved over today,” Hill said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys dinged up over there and he’s a guy that — he could move back to quarterback obviously — but just knowing the offense and doing things, he’s a good athlete, so we’ll take a look at him.”
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