Injuries have forced Missouri to adjust its spring practice regimen this week.
“We had to cut our reps back a little bit because of our running back situation,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “I’ve never really been down this low. We had actually three guys that could go. We had to move some guys in positions over to help a little bit.”
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Both of the Tigers’ most experienced running backs, senior Marcus Murphy (right ankle sprain) and junior Russell Hansbrough (right shoulder sprain), remain day-to-day after picking up injuries Saturday in the team’s first public scrimmage.
Pinkel wanted to see a physical scrimmage and it was that, but there was a toll.
Senior defensive tackle Matt Hoch broke his ankle. He had surgery Sunday to repair the injury and will be out for six weeks, according to an MU spokesman.
Sophomore linebacker Donavin Newsome (left shoulder sprain) also remains day-to-day, but the news wasn’t all bad.
Senior strong safety Braylon Webb, a senior, practiced on a limited basis after missing Saturday’s scrimmage with a concussion, while junior cornerback Ernest Payton, who suffered a torn ACL in September, returned to full practice for the first time.
Missouri picked up a commitment from one of the nation’s top running backs, Natereace Strong, on Tuesday at an unofficial campus visit.
According to Rivals.com and multiple media reports, Strong, a four-star recruit who is rated No. 21 at his position and No. 212 overall, gave Pinkel his verbal pledge before Tuesday’s spring practice.
Strong (5-11, 190) becomes the fourth commit in the class of 2015. He joins two other running backs, Lee’s Summit West’s Ryan Williams and Hutchinson Community College’s Chase Abbington, along with Blue Valley offensive lineman AJ Harris.
Strong chose Missouri over reigning national champion Florida State. He also had offers from Michigan State, Ohio State, Illinois and Kansas.
One of Strong’s East St. Louis teammates, defensive end Terry Beckner Jr., also came along for the visit. He is rated as the 35th-best prospect in the country by Rivals.com and No. 4 at his position.
Beckner Jr. has offers from Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Tennessee and USC among other NCAA Division I schools.