University of Missouri

Missouri shuts down Morgan Steward for a second straight season

University of Missouri running back Morgan Steward on Aug. 9.
University of Missouri running back Morgan Steward on Aug. 9. skeyser@kcstar.com

Morgan Steward will not play again this season for Missouri.

Tigers coach Gary Pinkel confirmed Monday that Steward, a junior running back from Staley, would sit for the remainder of the season as he continues recovering from a hip injury that already cost him the entire 2014 season.

“Morgan’s shown tremendous courage with how hard he’s worked to get back,” Pinkel said. “He was getting treatments at the University of Michigan medical school this summer and he was doing everything he can on a very unusual, severe hip injury that you don't really see in football. So, he’s made tremendous progress.”

Unfortunately, Steward’s still not healthy.

“His ability to really plant, drive, change direction, for what he’s capable of, he was not near what he can do,” Pinkel said.

The plan now is for Steward, who had 10 carries for 18 yards in Missouri’s first three games, to apply for a medical redshirt after next season.

By missing two seasons due to injury, Steward is likely to be granted a sixth season of eligibility, effectively replacing this season.

“What this will allow him to do is just to rehab another full year and allow him to come back and, hopefully, have a great year next year …,” Pinkel said. “I was hoping we could have him back this year. I thought maybe by the middle of October we’d get him back (at full strength), but I think it’s a very good move for him.”

Missouri hopes to have a healthy Steward for 2016 and 2017.

“He’ll have his doctorate by then probably,” Pinkel joked.

Missouri will get freshman running back Ryan Williams from Lee’s Summit West prepared on a weekly basis as the emergency running back.

“We are not planning on playing him right now,” Pinkel said, “but, if we have to do that, we have to do it.”

▪ Freshman safety Cam Hilton’s switch to offense became official Monday as he was listed third at slot receiver behind Nate Brown and Ray Wingo.

Hilton has been working as Missouri’s sixth safety, but he was a standout receiver at Webster Groves (Mo.) High.

“I think he’s got a chance of helping us there,” Pinkel said.

He also indicated that Hilton will have the option to return to safety after the season.

▪ Missouri’s special teams haven’t generated many big returns, so there’s been a personnel shakeup.

Hilton is now listed as the co-starter with junior Aarion Punter on the punt-return depth chart and is expected to handle duties against South Carolina.

Meanwhile, junior John Gibson takes over as the kick returner and is backed up by Finis Stribling IV and Wingo.

Sophomore Anthony Sherrils, a Hogan Prep graduate, had handled kickoff-return duties, but Pinkel said an ankle injury prompted the change.

Sherrils said his ankle is fine, but he’s not upset with the decision and is fine with focusing on his duties as the Tigers’ starting safety.

▪ Missouri’s homecoming game Oct. 10 against No. 25 Florida was selected for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff on the SEC Network.

It will be the Tigers’ first home night game since the SEC East division-clinching win against Texas A&M in the 2013 regular-season finale.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

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