Coach Gary Pinkel said Shane Ray is the only Missouri player who will leave early for the NFL Draft this season.
Redshirt sophomore defensive end Harold Brantley told the Tigers’ coaching staff that he will return, defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski said.
Missouri junior center Evan Boehm also elected not to enter the NFL Draft. His father, Lee’s Summit West coach Royce Boehm, announced the decision on Facebook.
Brantley, Boehm and junior right guard Connor McGovern were submitted along with Ray as the Tigers’ four candidates for early-entry evaluations under new NFL rules for underclassmen exploring the draft.
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“The good news is we’ve got some real good players coming back,” Pinkel said.
Missouri had two players, defensive end Kony Ealy and running back Henry Josey, skip their senior season and enter the draft last season.
Ealy was a second-round pick by the Panthers and finished with 12 tackles, including four sacks, and a forced fumble.
Josey went undrafted and was cut by the Eagles during the preseason, but he signed with the Vikings late last month after spending the season on the Jaguars’ practice squad.
Ray is projected as a first-round pick.
Kuligowski receives national honor
Missouri defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski will be honored as Football Scoop’s national Defensive Line Coach of the Year next week during the annual American Football Coaches Association convention in Louisville.
“I’m really happy to receive it,” Kuligowski said. “It’s something I think really speaks well of our whole staff and our players that we have. Obviously, if I don’t have guys like that, you don’t get mentioned for an award like that. I’m excited. I’m excited that our program has continued to get the national recognition it deserves.”
During Pinkel’s tenure, 10 of MU’s 27 drafts picks have been defensive linemen, including six since 2009. Three of them — Sheldon Richardson (2013), Aldon Smith (2011) and Ziggy Hood (2009) — were first-round picks.
“Coach Kool has done a tremendous job and really the number of players that he’s had excel at the highest level you can is phenomenal,” Pinkel said. “We’re really proud that he’s a Missouri Tiger.”
Former MU coach dubbed SEC Women’s Legend
Former Missouri women’s basketball coach Joann Rutherford was announced Wednesday as the school’s 2015 SEC Women’s Legends representative.
Rutherford, who went 422-263 with the Tigers from 1975-1998, will be honored at halftime of MU’s first game at the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament, which begins March 4 in Little Rock, Ark.