Two months ago, Anthony Hines was nursing a foot injury as he prepared for his sophomore season at College of San Mateo near his hometown of South San Francisco.
Last Saturday, Hines played four snaps during a 9-6 win against Connecticut after a whirlwind recruitment landed him nearly 2,000 miles away at the University of Missouri.
“David Johnson left our program, so there was kind of a scholarship there and we examined it …” Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said. “He’s a really good young player. We just kind of fell into that whole situation. We liked him on film.”
Hines — a 6-foot-1, 190-pound cornerback, who had three interceptions and eight pass breakups in junior college last season — visited Missouri in early August and wasted no time committing.
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He buzzed back to the Bay Area for some personal effects and returned immediately to Columbia for the next chapter in his playing career.
“It wasn’t really a hard decision for me, because I loved the visit, I love the program and I saw from back home that this was a place where they take pride in this and everything,” said Hines, who has four years to play three seasons with the Tigers.
Initially, he remained limited as the left foot healed.
Hines, who is listed third on the cornerback depth behind junior Aarion Penton and sophomore Logan Cheadle, didn’t play against Southeast Missouri or Arkansas State, but he made his debut in the second quarter against Connecticut.
“I caught on fast, so I thought it was a possibility,” Hines said. “I didn’t know if it would happen or not, but I did think it was a possibility.”
As the Huskies took the field for a possible game-winning fourth-quarter drive, Hines trotted out for his second series only to be yanked off the field by Pinkel.
“He was due to go in (as a) substitution, but I just didn’t want him in there,” Pinkel said. “He’s a really good, young player, but, in that situation, I want our experienced guys out on the field at that time.”
Senior Kenya Dennis took Hines’ place, but Hines understood Pinkel’s decision.
“It’s understandable,” he said. “It’s my first game and my first game playing here. I wasn’t really bummed about it or anything.”
If anything, he was thrilled simply for the chance to play in the closing minutes of a three-point game and hopes to earn more playing time — along with Pinkel’s trust — in the future.
“It kind of surprised me, but it just showed that (cornerbacks) coach (Cornell) Ford had confidence in me, so I was willing to take that opportunity and take that challenge …,” Hines said. “As long as I’m getting better, I’m expecting to get on the field more. But if I’m not doing my job, then you know how that goes.”
Pinkel has little doubt that Hines’ time will come.
“He’s a really good athlete,” Pinkel said. “He’s very smart. He’s got a really good background. Sometimes, you’re just fortunate to hit the right guy at the right spot.”
No. 25 Missouri at Kentucky
▪ WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
▪ WHERE: Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, Ky.
▪ TV: SEC Network
Other story lines
1. Road warriors: Missouri has won 11 consecutive road games, including eight straight in conference play. It is the third-longest streak in the nation, trailing only the last two national champions — Ohio State and Florida State. The Tigers’ defense has 41 sacks and forced 24 turnovers in those victories.
2. Mauk loves facing Kentucky: During his two previous starts against the Wildcats, Missouri junior quarterback Maty Mauk has completed 35 of 61 passes — 57.4 percent — for 367 with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He also has 16 carries for 99 yards on the ground. The last time Mauk played at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky., he tied the Tigers’ single-game record with five touchdown passes.
3. Stout D: Missouri ranks fifth in the nation in scoring defense at 9.7 points per game and has allowed only three second-half points through three games. The Tigers are even better in terms of total defense, ranking fourth at 217 yards per game and second with 34 tackles for a loss behind only Texas A&M (36).