Two Missouri players opted to leave the football program this week.
Tigers coach Barry Odom confirmed Tuesday after the team’s seventh spring practice that junior running back Chase Abbington and senior offensive lineman Malik Cuellar were no longer with the team.
Both arrived at Mizzou last year as junior college transfers.
“Chase visited with me a couple days ago and he’s decided to quit football,” Odom said. “I support him on trying to finish this semester academically the correct way, which he needs to do. It’s unfortunate that he decided this was not something he wanted to continue to pursue.”
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Abbington — a 6-foot-2, 215-pound Fort Zumwalt South graduate and Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College transfer — was expected to flourish as a bigger back for the Tigers last season, but he barely saw the field, finishing with only six carries for 39 yards.
Likewise, Cuellar — a 6-5, 300-pound transfer from City College of San Francisco — was a disappointment. He was expected to compete for a starting job after arriving in time for spring camp last season, but only appeared sparingly in eight games as he transitioned from right to left tackle.
“Malik Cuellar came in today and decided football was not going to be in his future,” Odom said. “He decided to quit the football team as well.”
Odom said he spoke Sunday with junior offensive lineman Clay Rhodes, who is on leave from the team to deal with personal family issues, but he isn’t ready to return yet.
Without Rhodes, a Blue Valley graduate, and now Cuellar, Mizzou is down to eight scholarship linemen — Alec Abeln, Paul Adams, Sam Bailey, Nate Crawford, A.J. Harris, Tyler Howell, Tanner Owen and Kevin Pendleton — in spring camp.
Odom joked he might have to suit up a reporter for the spring game, but he also said the offensive staff isn’t making excuses.
“They’ve rolled up their sleeves and said, ‘Let’s go get after it and get as good as we can get,’” Odom said. “That’s pretty awesome.”
Of course, it would be more awesome if the Tigers — who add a pair of 2016 signings, Webb City (Mo.) three-star Trystan Castillo and East St. Louis (Ill.) three-star Tre’vour Simms, in June — could fill the now-vacant scholarships with a few new players.
“We’re always going to be recruiting,” Odom said. “That doesn’t ever stop. Yes, we’re recruiting for next year and two years down the road, but we’re recruiting for Sept. 3 also. We’re going to keep being very aggressive with that.”
Don’t be shocked if Missouri adds an offensive lineman between now and August training camp.
Brady, Brantley absent
Sophomore defensive end Walter Brady and senior defensive tackle Harold Brantley missed Tuesday’s workout.
“Walter had a birth in his family and he needed to be there for that,” Odom said.
Brady, a freshman All-American last season, headed home Monday and is expected back by Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Brantley was excused to work on academic projects.
“He’s got a lot of work to do academically,” Odom said.
Junior defensive lineman A.J. Logan (left knee strain) was added to Missouri’s injury report Tuesday. He’s day-to-day along with junior offensive lineman Nate Crawford (lower back strain) and sophomore wide receiver Ray Wingo (left hamstring strain).
Three wide receivers — senior Chris Black (right ankle sprain), junior Oke Akushe (right hamstring strain) and redshirt freshman Johnathon Johnson (right ankle sprain) — remain limited to non-contact drills.
The four players recovering from surgery — sophomore defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. (right ACL), redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jonah Dubinski (left knee meniscus), sophomore safety Isaiah Pierre (left ACL) and sophomore safety Tavon Ross (left ACL) — also remain sidelined.