Sophomore cornerback Christian Holmes was in the mix to start for Missouri in 2017, but now he may wind up shut down for the season.
Holmes, 6-1 and 195 pounds, suffered a dislocated shoulder while making a tackle Saturday during the Tigers’ scrimmage at Memorial Stadium. He’s expected to have surgery later this week.
How quickly Holmes, an Atlanta native from McNair High, can recover from the procedure will determine his availability this season.
“It’s really unfortunate,” second-year Mizzou coach Barry Odom said. “We had a lot of ideas and thoughts on what kind of player he was going to be early on for us. … We’re going to approach it to where we think we’re going to get him back, but also we’ve got to err on the side of can you get back and get back and be productive?”
Odom said it’s similar to a shoulder injury former Tigers defensive end Charles Harris suffered before spring practice in 2016.
If Holmes’ recovery timetable is similar to Harris’, it’s possible he can return in time to make an impact this season.
“For him to get hurt and miss significant time, it’s tough,” secondary coach/co-defensive coordinator Ryan Walters said. “But you live, you learn and you grow. He’ll be better for it when you comes back.”
If Holmes isn’t a factor this season, Mizzou needs some young guys to step up in a big way.
The Tigers lost both starting cornerbacks off last season’s team, Aarion Penton and John Gibson.
Sophomore DeMarkus Acy and senior Logan Cheadle have been atop the depth chart through much of MU’s training camp, but there’s no such thing as enough skilled corners in modern college football.
Holmes was pushing for a starting spot and, if nothing else, provided quality depth.
Now, junior Finis Stribling IV, who’s primarily been used on special teams, must contribute along with freshman Adam Sparks and redshirt freshman Jerod Alton.
“(Holmes’ injury) didn’t look like much, but obviously it was,” Odom said. “We’ve got a number of guys who are going to have to step up to fill that role in all aspects, from the kicking game to how we are playing in the secondary. … There’s a lot of pressure on a lot of guys, including the coaching staff, to get those guys ready to go play.”
Stribling lauded Holmes’ toughness and fun-loving demeanor.
He wasn’t excited to have a greater opportunity at Holmes’ expense, but Stribling is confident he can contribute more on defense after seeing himself make more plays during spring practice and training camp.
“I’ve just been open to coaching, kind of like a sponge,” Stribling said. “Whatever (Walters) tells me, I take it wholeheartedly and do whatever he tells me to do. Coach Walters definitely did a lot to put me in the right position to make the plays I’ve made.”
Alton also has drawn praise for his progress in camp.
“Jerod probably has been as productive and as good as I’ve seen Jerod play since he’s been here,” Odom said. “I think he understands a little bit and has grown up some.”
Sparks may be the fastest-riser up Mizzou’s depth chart after a strong showing since his arrival in June.
“He has a good understanding of what we’re doing schematically,” Walters said. “His technique is better and better every time we step on the field, so he’s working hard and he cares about it. He wants to be good, and that’s more than half the battle right there.”
The Tigers’ staff hasn’t made a decision about fellow freshman Terry Petry, a speedy cornerback prospect who will be redshirted if he’s not going to see enough snaps to justify burning a year of eligibility.