Junior offensive lineman Nate Crawford has retired from football.
Crawford, a versatile 6-foot-5 and 300-pound veteran from West Florida Tech High in Pensacola, Fla., appeared in 11 games last season, including eight starts at right tackle and left guard.
He had back surgery after the 2014 season, but recovered in time to emerge as a fixture on the offensive line.
Crawford had a second surgery on his back two months ago, but the recovery was considerably slower this time.
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“Here in the last few days, sitting down with the medical staff again, we decided it was best at this time … for him long term that he’s medically retired,” first-year MU coach Barry Odom said.
Crawford is the fifth scholarship offensive lineman Missouri has lost since the start of spring practice.
Andy Bauer, Malik Cuellar, Mike Fairchild and Clay Rhodes also left the team for various reasons during the last five months.
Fortunately, with additions over the summer, the Tigers enter camp with 11 scholarship offensive linemen, so the situation isn’t as dire as the spring when the team was down to seven for some practices.
Redshirt freshman Tyrell Jacobs isn’t among that group. He’s moved back to the defensive line after struggling to adjust to a switch to the offensive line during spring practice.
Missouri was down two redshirt freshman offensive lineman Thursday for its season-opening practice.
Tanner Owen — a Kearney graduate, who’s expected to compete for the starting spot at left tackle — is out indefinitely with an unspecified health issue and there’s no timetable for his return, according to Odom.
Meanwhile, A.J. Harris — a Blue Valley graduate, who’s in the mix at center and left guard — was limited after wrist surgery a few weeks ago, Odom said.
“We don’t want to rush it, but for him to get back out today and do some work was great,” Odom said.
Kirkwood (Mo.) defensive back Jerod Alton, who signed with the Tigers in February is finishing up a summer school class before he can enroll at MU, so he also wasn’t at practice.
He’s expected to arrive on campus “pretty quick,” said Odom, who indicated that sophomore offensive lineman Kyle Mitchell, a junior college transfer, was cleared Thursday.
Addition to offensive line
Columbia-Rock Bridge graduate Michael Stannard was a surprise addition to the Missouri roster.
He graduated from Memphis, where he started seven games on the offensive line during the last two seasons, and apparently has joined his hometown Tigers.
“We’re waiting on a transcript with him to get finished up (with his enrollment), so he’s not with our program yet,” Odom said. “But hopefully, we’ll do so quickly. He finished up all the academic things he needed to finish up there, and we’re waiting on the transcript to be processed.”
Odom said Stannard, who’s listed at 6-feet-2 and 290 pounds, will be a walk-on for now.
“Could that change? Possibly, but he’s not (on scholarship) today,” Odom said.
Change to captaincy
Under former coach Gary Pinkel, the first day of fall camp also meant a team vote to determine the season’s four senior captains.
That didn’t happen Thursday as Missouri opened its first camp under Barry Odom, Pinkel’s successor.
“I want to see how our leadership continues to develop over the next few weeks,” Odom said. “I expect a great team full of leaders. It’s exciting to me to watch our guys grow in those areas.”
The Tigers also limit the permanent captains to the senior class this season.
Fan Appreciation Day set for Sunday
Missouri’s annual Fan Appreciation Day will take place at 6:45 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Stadium.
Players and coaches will sign autographs for an hour at the free event.
Fans will get to mingle on the field, but there will be a strict limit of one signing item per fan. Mizzou will make free schedule posters available.
Any fans attempting to bring multiple items into the stadium will be asked to return them to their vehicle.
Fans — who are encouraged to bring a sealed bottle of water, though water also will be provided on the field — should enter through Gate 1. Those requiring handicap access should park in Lot G and enter the stadium through the southwest field-level gate.
The Tiger Team Store will open at 5:30 p.m. for fans wishing to purchase team gear before the event.