As many as six true freshmen may see the field for Missouri in 2017.
Second-year coach Barry Odom said safety Joshuah Bledsoe, linebacker Jamal Brooks, running back Larry Rountree III, cornerback Adam Sparks and safety Jordan Ulmer will play. He also expects linebacker Aubrey Miller to have a significant role on special teams.
Odom plans to get Miller heavily involved in special teams as a way of acclimating him to college football and potentially serving as a springboard to greatness as it was for former Tigers great Sean Weatherspoon.
Tight end Logan Christopherson was in position to contribute on special teams, if nothing else, but he may end up redshirting after surgery to repair a severely sprained ankle.
“Had he continued to be healthy, I think he would’ve helped us out in a lot of different areas,” Odom said, “but he will be out for some time.”
Odom said Mizzou transferred to game week seven days early in advance of the season opener against Missouri State.
“The first 11 and second 11 are starting to take shape,” Odom said. “Now, I think it’s really important to get the game plan in.”
Odom wants to spend the next two weeks zeroing in on building chemistry among the players expected to share the field when the Tigers open the season Sept. 2 at Memorial Stadium.
He also wants to be sure players further down the depth chart are equally prepared to step on the field when called upon.
“I didn’t do a good enough job getting the twos and threes prepared to play last year,” Odom said.
It’s an issue he’s attempted to remedy as Mizzou’s quest to return to a bowl game approaches.
D-line impresses during scrimmage
Odom rattled off a quartet of defensive linemen when asked who impressed him during Saturday’s scrimmage.
That group includes junior-college transfers Rashad Brandon and Walter Palmore along with junior Terry Beckner Jr. and sophomore Markell Utsey.
Odom also praised the performance of both middle linebackers — senior Eric Beisel and sophomore Cale Garrett — embroiled in perhaps the most fierce battle for a starting spot on the Tigers’ roster.
Additionally, Ulmer “showed a lot of flashes and promise,” and Odom singled out fellow freshman safety Bledsoe for an eye-opening performance.
“In my room, Ulmer’s been a tremendous addition with his size and his frame and his knowledge of the game,” secondary coach/co-defensive coordinator Ryan Walters said. “He’s been a very pleasant addition to the secondary room. I’m really impressed with his ability to grasp what we’re doing defensively and get us in the right call and get people lined up and make checks.”
Offensively, Odom said senior wide receiver J’Mon Moore and Rountree III were standouts.
Mizzou chooses captains
Odom said the team elected four captains this week — Beisel, junior right tackle Paul Adams, senior defensive end Jordan Harold and junior quarterback Drew Lock.
“I’m proud of those guys,” Odom said.
Beisel said he expected to be elected captain after taking an inspirational role with the team, becoming a rallying force for workouts and a respected mouthpiece in the locker room, during the offseason, but it still was humbling.
“It’s a great honor to be elected by my teammates and to be put in the shoes to lead this team with what we’re about to do,” Beisel said.
Beisel also said he planned to lead regardless of whether he was elected captain.
“That’s what I told the team at the end,” he said. “This doesn’t change anything. Great leaders inspire other people to step up, and that’s what we are going to continue to do.”
Missouri’s scrimmage took a toll on Saturday with a handful of significant injuries.
▪ Sophomore cornerback Christian Holmes suffered a shoulder dislocation. He is expected to have surgery later this week and could end up shut down for the season.
▪ Freshman running back Dawson Downing, a walk-on from Bishop Miege, also missed Tuesday’s practice because of a sprained foot.
▪ Senior defensive end Marcell Frazier (strained quadriceps) also was injured during the scrimmage and limited at practice.
“If it was next Tuesday, he would’ve practiced,” Odom said. “This was a bonus day, because him getting two or three more practices, I don’t know if that’s going to improve how much Marcell plays.”
▪ Senior running back Ish Witter (hamstring) was injured late last week and missed the scrimmage.
▪ Sophomore wide receiver Richaud Floyd (concussion), junior running back Nate Strong (knee), junior offensive lineman Adam Roland (hip strain), and walk-on redshirt freshman running back Jerney Jones (dislocated shoulder) also missed practice Tuesday.
▪ Sophomore wide receiver Justin Smith (knee) and sophomore defensive tackle Markell Utsey (shoulder) returned to practice after missing most of last week.