University of Missouri

Missouri’s Jimmie Hunt ruled out for Citrus Bowl after shoulder surgery

Missouri wide receiver Jimmie Hunt (88) came up with the catch that set up the game-tying touchdown Saturday against the Arkansas Razorbacks in Columbia. Missouri went on to win the game 21-14 and claim their second consecutive SEC East championship. Next Saturday in Atlanta, the Tigers will play West division champion Alabama for the conference championship.
Missouri wide receiver Jimmie Hunt (88) came up with the catch that set up the game-tying touchdown Saturday against the Arkansas Razorbacks in Columbia. Missouri went on to win the game 21-14 and claim their second consecutive SEC East championship. Next Saturday in Atlanta, the Tigers will play West division champion Alabama for the conference championship. Kansas City Star

Missouri announced Friday that senior wide receiver Jimmie Hunt will miss the Citrus Bowl against Minnesota on Jan. 1 in Orlando, Fla.

Hunt had been day-to-day during bowl practices because of a shoulder injury, but he underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a torn labrum in the acromioclavicular joint in his left shoulder.

He’d struggled with the injury throughout the season, a spokesman for the Tigers said.

“It just became too painful,” Coach Gary Pinkel said.

Hunt, who missed the South Carolina game because of a knee injury, was second on Missouri with 40 catches for 698 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He trailed only fellow senior Bud Sasser in each category.

He finishes his MU career with 74 receptions for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns in 50 games.

Senior Gavin Otte, who has one catch for minus-3 yards in 11 games this season, is Hunt’s backup on the depth chart, but freshman Nate Brown also could have significant time in the slot against the Golden Gophers.

Tight end Kendall Blanton, who is redshirting this season, was held out of practice. Blanton, a Blue Springs South graduate, has a hyperextended left elbow, which was in a sling.

“He’s going to be OK,” Pinkel said.

The Tigers expect to have defensive end Walter Brady available in January. He’s another playing currently redshirting.

“Academically, he did very well and he’ll be here in January,” Pinkel said.

Defensive coordinator

For only the fourth time in 14 years at Missouri, Pinkel is searching for a new coordinator after Dave Steckel was introduced Sunday as Missouri State’s new head coach.

“I knew with probably three or four weeks left in the season that they were interested in him,” Pinkel said.

Steckel, who came to MU in 2001 as the linebackers coach on Pinkel’s first staff, had served as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator since 2009.

“He really wants to be a head football coach, and he’ll do a great job,” Pinkel said. “… I’m real happy for him. I know the team’s disappointed, but they’re disappointed because they love the guy. He did a phenomenal job here, but, boy, is he happy he’s going to have his opportunity.”

Steckel will stay on with Missouri through the Citrus Bowl, but Pinkel expects to announce a new defensive coordinator before the bowl game.

“It’s close,” Pinkel said. “I think sometime in the next week or so we’ll make an announcement.”

When asked if any current defensive assistants have expressed interest in the job, Pinkel said, “I don’t discuss that.”

Memphis defensive coordinator Barry Odom, who previously served as director of football operations and safeties coach under Pinkel, and Missouri defensive-line coach Craig Kuligowski are considered the front-runners for the job.

Memphis plays BYU on Monday in the Miami Beach Bowl.

Kuligowski was announced Friday as the national defensive-line coach of the year by Football Scoop, one of the few organizations that honors assistant coaches.

Steckel will remain with the Tigers through the Citrus Bowl.

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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