University of Missouri

Mizzou notes: Coach Barry Odom open to idea of J’den Cox joining football team next season

MU’s J’den Cox, who won a bronze medal in wrestling at the Rio Olympics, has mentioned he would like to play football for the Tigers in 2017.
MU’s J’den Cox, who won a bronze medal in wrestling at the Rio Olympics, has mentioned he would like to play football for the Tigers in 2017. deulitt@kcstar.com

Missouri senior J’den Cox made an interesting comment about his athletic future Aug. 31 during his Welcome Back Reception at Memorial Stadium’s Columns Club.

Cox, who won a freestyle wrestling Olympic bronze medal at 86 kilograms last month in Rio de Janeiro and is a two-time NCAA champion for the Tigers, told the crowd he hoped to play football for the Tigers in 2017.

That part wasn’t news to Missouri football coach Barry Odom.

“A number of months ago, he stopped me in the weight room,” Odom said Monday during his weekly news conference. “He was working out like he always does, and I was walking through the weight room, thinking about working out but not doing it.”

Cox stopped MU’s new football coach.

“He pulled me over to the side and said, ‘Hey, I just really want to play football,’ ” said Odom, who remembers Cox as an all-state linebacker at Hickman High School in Columbia.

Unsure how that would sit with Tigers wrestling coach Brian Smith — “who I’m good friends with,” Odom said — or USA Wrestling, Odom told Cox to remain focused on wrestling but that he welcomed a conversation.

“I also didn’t want to end up in figure four down on the ground, waving for help,” Odom said, “because I know who would win that match if we squared up, so I just kind of said, ‘Whatever you want man, let’s go.’ ”

If Cox, who’d have one year of eligibility for football — but not wrestling — next year, decides he wants to play and gets the appropriate clearances, Odom sounds eager for him to suit up.

“You look worldwide, he’s got to be one of the best competitors in the world,” Odom said. “How can you not like that? … He’s an unbelievable kid and an ambassador for the university, the athletic department, the state of Missouri and our country. We’ll continue to talk and kind of see where it goes.”

Blue Springs’ Parker decommits

Barely a month after committing to Missouri, Blue Springs junior offensive tackle/defensive end Daniel Parker Jr. reopened his recruitment.

Parker, who took an unofficial visit to Arkansas last weekend, thanked the Tigers for their interest and said “Mizzou will remain high on my list,” but that he’s “decided to rescind my verbal commitment.”

According to the Rivals recruiting website, Parker is the No. 5 player in Missouri for the 2018 class and No. 24 defensive tackle in the country.

Parker is listed as the No. 4 player in Missouri and No. 10 strong-side defensive end in his class, according to 247 Sports.

Both sites rate Parker — who also has offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska and Missouri State — as a three-star prospect.

He had been the first Tigers commitment for 2018. Now, only New Orleans defensive end Josh Smith remains among known commitments.

More expected from Moore

Sophomore quarterback Drew Lock was “super surprised” to learn he’d targeted junior wide receiver J’Mon Moore 23 times in Saturday’s season-opener at Missouri.

Lock also was comfortable with the distribution of passes, because Moore was productive. Moore caught eight passes — tied for the most in the Southeastern Conference through one week — for 104 yards and added a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.

After much talk of the Texas native’s progress during fall camp, Odom was pleased to see it translate to the field and attributed much of the success to an improvement in Moore’s practice habits.

“If you're practicing really well throughout the week, that usually means you've got an opportunity to play that way,” Odom said. “He showed some things the other day that obviously were impressive, and also I expected more out of him.”

Moore said Monday he also was pleased with his production, especially after developing a tremendous rapport with Lock during the summer.

“We just spent more time together, and when you spend more time with somebody, y’all just start to click,” Moore said. “We both knew he was the guy and I’m trying to be the guy, and when you’re trying to be the guy you’ve got to have a partner in crime. So, we just work together.”

Depth chart changes

Missouri’s depth chart remained largely unchanged after the West Virginia game.

The only outright change was sophomore Keyon Dilosa moving into the No. 2 wide receiver spot behind Moore. Dilosa replaced junior Dominic Collins.

The only other changes are that sophomore defensive end Spencer Williams is now a co-starter with junior walk-on Jordan Harold and sophomore defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. is a co-starter with senior Rickey Hatley.

Williams led all defensive linemen with six tackles against the Mountaineers, while Harold didn’t make any tackles.

Hatley and Beckner both were credited with three tackles.

The Star’s Alec Lewis also contributed to this report.

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