Missouri’s offensive line depth chart was expected to be fluid throughout spring football.
Instead, the Tigers’ front five — left to right, senior Mitch Morse, senior Anthony Gatti, junior Evan Boehm, junior Mitch L. Hall and junior Connor McGovern — remained largely unchanged.
That is no longer the case in preseason training camp. A pectoral injury to McGovern opened the door for junior Taylor Chappell to see time with the first-team at right tackle.
While he didn’t supplant McGovern, Chappell has drawn even with Hall in the chase for the starting job at right guard.
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“He and Mitch Hall are even,” Missouri offensive line coach A.J. Ricker said. “Really, it’s just about getting the five best guys right now.”
Chappell impressed coaches enough on film in Tuesday’s scrimmage to warrant reps with the first string at practice Wednesday.
“That was based on performance,” offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. “Taylor Chappell is doing really well. He has really stepped up, and he’s getting better every day. He’s a guy that’s going to be able to help us.”
Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel stressed the need to prepare guys to play multiple spots as another reason for Chappell’s work at guard.
“Taylor’s doing really well,” Pinkel said. “We’re going to have several guys who are going to have to play guard and tackle, but this is the most healthy he’s been in three years. He’s had a lot of injuries since he’s been here, but he’s really improving and getting better.”
Pinkel mentioned Gatti, who is currently the starting left guard, as a candidate to work some at tackle.
McGovern returned to practice Wednesday and was a full participant except for one-on-one pass-rush drills.
Senior strong safety Braylon Webb, a three-year starter, also returned to practice without a red pullover for the first time in training camp.
“It was nice seeing those guys out there,” Pinkel said. “… Any time you get starters back, it’s nice to get those guys back in there.”
The only new addition to the injury list was senior wide receiver Gavin Otte, who sprained his right ankle when he was rolled up on a tackle in Tuesday’s scrimmage.
Several other Tigers remain limited at Wednesday’s practice: junior safety Cortland Browning (shoulder), sophomore running back Morgan Steward (hip), senior defensive tackle Matt Hoch (pectoral strain), sophomore linebacker Donavin Newsom (hamstring), freshman linebacker Grant Jones (knee) and sophomore wide receiver Eric Laurent (hamstring).
Pinkel pumped for SEC Network debut
The SEC Network goes live at 5 p.m. Thursday and Pinkel is excited about the channel’s prospects.
“I was told, other than the NFL Network, it’s going to be No. 2 numbers-wise for first-year launch,” Pinkel said. “I think it’s going to be huge. And I know this, it’s going to be done remarkably first-class. I guarantee it. It’s going to be at the highest level.”
Pinkel said Missouri learned a lot about the SEC’s nationwide appeal in recruiting after moving to the conference.
Ross, Brady remain in holding pattern
Two Missouri freshmen, safety Tavon Ross and defensive end Walter Brady, have yet to arrive for camp, but coach Pinkel remained optimistic.
“Hopefully, we’re going to get both of them still,” Pinkel said. “They’re both just academically related.”
The Tigers are waiting for word from the NCAA Eligibility Center about both players.