Missouri’s secondary took a hit on Wednesday as coach Barry Odom told reporters that Kaleb Prewett, a former defensive back at Blue Springs High School and Kansas State, is officially off the team.
Odom announced Prewett’s departure to a group of reporters before he took the floor at SEC Media Days, which ended months of speculation about Prewett’s future.
He was suspended indefinitely in January for a violation of team rules, but Odom said throughout the spring that the situation had yet to be resolved.
Sophomore Josh Bledsoe takes the reins at strong safety after Prewett’s departure. Missouri also added defensive back Khalil Oliver, a graduate transfer from Oregon, in the spring and Odom said he’s been on campus for “two to three weeks” after he was finishing a class at Oregon. His experience will be key for a unit filled with underclassmen.
Odom also announced Wednesday he will give full play-calling duties on defense to first-year coordinator Ryan Walters. Odom had called defensive plays in his three seasons as coach.
Walters called some of the defense later in the season, but with help from Odom. This year will be Walters’ first on his own.
Odom said he has full trust in the defensive staff, but said the task was hard to give it up because he has done it since 2012, when he was in his first season as a coordinator at Memphis.
“I’m going to help as much as I can, stay out of the way as much as I can,” he said.
Last season, Odom said there would be times that Missouri’s offense needed his attention when the defense was on the field, which made it hard to do both jobs.
Instead of coaching linebackers this season, Odom will take a different approach and try to spend some time with a different position group each day.
Mizzou fans quiet?
Florida defensive end Cece Jefferson was critical of Missouri’s fanbase on Tuesday, saying he didn’t enjoy playing at Faurot Field in 2017 and found the fans inside Memorial Stadium to be quiet.
Mizzou quarterback Drew Lock said Jefferson might have been confused because fans are usually quiet before the snap when the Tigers are on offense.
Odom wasn’t aware of the comment before walking into the broadcast room and being told about it by a reporter.
“I think the score was 45-16,” he said. “I think our fanbase was pretty good that day.”
Receiver depth chart
If the Tigers were to play on Saturday, Raytown product Dominic Gicinto would be a heavy part of Missouri’s receiving corps, but that could change after fall camp.
Gicinto was the lone true freshman listed on Missouri’s chart for SEC Media Days and has made a strong impression on the coaching staff after enrolling in January.
Odom said the 5-foot-9 wideout has benefited from the lack of depth at the position during the spring and that his spot could change once fall camp starts with graduate transfer Alex Ofodile and the team’s incoming freshmen joining the mix.
Ofodile’s first Division I offer came from Odom when he was at Memphis, well before the Columbia native blew up as a national recruit. Ofodile’s father, A.J., who coaches receivers at Missouri, got his start in coaching as an assistant to Odom at Rock Bridge High School.
Odom joked that he’s mad at the younger Ofodile for not committing to him the first time around but is glad with how he’s progressed as a player.
“Thought we had an in there,” he said. “He blew up from there. Looking at what I thought he was in high school he’s what I think he’s going to be in college. I think he’s got a chance to help us a lot and help us early on.”
Redshirt rule thoughts
Odom said he’s in favor of the new redshirt rule that allows a player to participate in up to four games without losing his eligibility for a year.
He said the rule would have benefited Missouri’s secondary last season as true freshman Jordan Ulmer played in a game before it was determined he wasn’t ready for the college game. Cornerback Christian Holmes injured his shoulder in fall camp and was shut down for the year, but under the new rule he could have played the final four games as a redshirt.
Odom said he thinks the rule is helpful with situations like Holmes and Ulmer but doesn’t want to hold a player back if he thinks they can handle a full season early in their career.
“I think it’s tough to predict how you’re going to use it,” he said. “If we get a guy in and train him and get him ready to go play I’m not going to be too concerned about, well we got to stay within the four-game limit. Play him early in the year and you get to game three and you’ve got an injury or something, he’s playing anyway. They’ll be a couple of occasions where it might help us in some spots.”