Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel has written a nine-step “Law of the Playmaker” manifesto that outlines the qualities he believes are possessed by winning players. The Star asked Tigers staff members to pick current players who best demonstrate each of those qualities and provide reasons why:
(This story is part of The Kansas City Star's Football 2015 special section that publishes Sunday, Aug. 30. Pick one up and check out more here.)
1. Intuitive: LB Kentrell Brothers
“Playmakers sense things that others do not sense. They may smell an opportunity that others do not, and then take an intuitive jump for the team that turns a disadvantage into an advantage.”
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Missouri’s coaches seldom have to tell Brothers what to do twice. He has great instincts and feel for the game. He can also demonstrate any training technique and do it with ease for teammates.
2. Communicative: DT Harold Brantley
“They say things that other team members don’t say. Maybe they speak the hard truth, or maybe they offer insight to a struggling teammate. Playmakers usually know the difference between when a teammate needs a boost and when he needs a boot.”
Brantley’s “Burn the Boats” speech before the Texas A&M game last season, invoking Hernan Cortes’ motivational tactic during the Spanish conquest of Mexico, became the stuff of locker-room legend. Brantley is out for the season following injuries he sustained in a June car wreck, but his verbal cajoling remains important for Missouri. When he speaks, the Tigers listen.
3. Passionate: DE Charles Harris
“Playmakers foster intense passion for their team, work ethic, and overall victory. They can channel that passion into controlled fury in order to achieve the goal, and they can spread contagious enthusiasm throughout the locker room.”
On the field, in the classroom, as a friend, in practice, Harris strives for greatness in every undertaking. He has an intense desire to reach his potential in any endeavor.
4. Talented: DT Josh Augusta
“They can’t take the team to the next level if they have not mastered the skills to succeed on a personal level.”
Men Augusta’s size — and he’s been north of 350 pounds for much of his Missouri career — shouldn’t be able to do most of the things he does. Whether it’s dunking a basketball, returning kicks (which he did in high school) or overpowering interior linemen, Augusta is an impressive physical specimen.
5. Creative: S Ian Simon
“They are constantly looking for innovative ways to improve their team.”
When Missouri visited the Army National Guard this summer, the ever-inquisitive Simon sought out solutions for addressing a leadership vacuum beyond the returning starters. He listened to input from the citizen soldiers, formulated a way to apply it and asked Missouri’s staff to implement it. The result instantly unified the Tigers.
6. Initiating: CB Aarion Penton
“Playmakers are disciplined in their actions and find joy when improvements happen. Therefore, they initiate change.”
Penton didn’t arrive at Missouri as a workout warrior. He had unquestioned talent, but he needed to develop and nurture it. Penton’s competitive nature took hold, and he now challenges his teammates in the weight room.
7. Responsible: LT Connor McGovern
“Playmakers take responsibility for the team. They live in a mindset of, ‘It it’s to be, it’s up to me.’ ”
When young linemen, especially sophomore right tackles Nate Crawford and Clay Rhodes, wanted extra help this summer, McGovern was one of the veterans who always stuck around to lend a hand.
8. Generous: C Evan Boehm
“Playmakers are willing to give everything they have to carry their team. Not only are they willing, but they are prepared to do so.”
Boehm demonstrates the values of servant leadership through his actions in the community, as co-president of Missouri’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council and in his daily interactions with teammates.
9. Influential: RB Russell Hansbrough
“Playmakers lead by example. Team members will follow a playmaker when they won’t respond to anyone else. In the case of a highly talented team member who is not especially gifted in leadership, he may be an effective playmaker in his area of passion.”
More often than not, Hansbrough is a man of few words, but his influence on the team showed when he was elected as a senior captain. Missouri’s players pay attention to and emulate Hansbrough’s work ethic. They respect and appreciate him, and when he does speak, the team responds.