Sophomore Cam Hilton, who played at wide receiver last season after switching positions in fall camp, has returned to the defense.
Hilton — who had nine catches for 129 yards last season, including six for 85 yards in the final three games — is listed as a free safety on the Tigers’ initial spring roster.
“He’s a talented kid that can play a lot of spots,” coach Barry Odom said. “If you look at our depth chart, it’s most important for me and for both sides of the ball to work together to get our guys in position where they can help our football team. Right now, (safety) looked like the best spot that our team needed him.”
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Defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross said Hilton already is working with the first-team unit.
“If you look at the number of receivers we’ve got compared to the number of defensive backs and then his skill-set level, he’s going to help us over there,” Odom said. “He’d help us on either side, but our team needed him at safety.”
Freshman running back Marquise Doherty wasn’t at practice Tuesday. He was across Providence Road at Taylor Stadium with the Tigers’ baseball team.
Doherty, a Winnetonka graduate, has only played one game this season for Tim Jamieson’s squad, but Odom will honor the agreement to let him continue playing both sports.
“The days that (Missouri baseball) is playing, we’ve worked together to make sure that it’s baseball season,” Odom said. “When we recruited him, we told him that he would have an opportunity to go compete in baseball, and that’s what he’s doing.”
Of course, on days there is no game and practice doesn’t conflict, “he’s going to come work with us,” Odom said. “He’ll get a fair amount of offseason workouts with us, which is good. I want him to have great success with the baseball team as well.”
Four players who had offseason surgery did not participate in Missouri’s first practice, but senior defensive tackle Harold Brantley wasn’t in that group.
“Brantley got some work today, which was awesome to see just from a personal standpoint from where he was last June,” Odom said. “There were questions whether or not he was going to get out of the hospital and to see the progress that he, with (Mizzou head athletic trainer) Rex Sharp and (team surgeon) Pat Smith, has made. I’m proud of the kid.”
Sophomore defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. (right ACL), sophomore safeties Tavon Ross (left ACL) and Isaiah Pierre (left ACL) and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jonah Dubinski (left meniscus) did not participate, but there’s a chance each could return in early April, a Tigers spokesman said.
“Beckner and Ross both will be very limited,” Odom said. “I don’t want a guy coming out here off of that injury who’s not ready to go. That’s going to be Rex’s call.”
Junior defensive end Charles Harris, who had offseason shoulder surgery, and redshirt freshman wide receiver Johnathon Johnson, who was nicked in practice, were limited participants.
“If we were playing, (Johnson) would have played,” Odom said. “Charles Harris, he had a procedure done after the season, so that (red pullover) will come off pretty quick.”