Missouri bolstered its offensive-line depth this week when Memphis graduate-student transfer Michael Stannard was cleared to begin practicing for a new pride of Tigers.
Stannard, a Columbia Rock Bridge graduate, started seven games in the last two seasons at Memphis, including six starts at right guard in 2014 and one at left guard last season.
After graduating earlier this month with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Memphis, he’ll work at guard and center for now with Missouri.
“It feels amazing to be back home,” Stannard said.
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Missouri didn’t offer a scholarship to Stannard out of high school, but the fact that first-year Tigers coach Barry Odom had recruited him to Memphis — when he was defensive coordinator there — made it easy to return to Columbia.
Stannard, 6 feet 2 and 290 pounds, is a walk-on for now, but he isn’t complaining.
“At the end of the day, I would prefer to play,” Stannard said. “I would rather play than get money.”
Stannard lost his starting spot last season after he was suspended for the first game of the season for his role in the postgame brawl after the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl win against BYU.
Still he immediately becomes the most experienced offensive lineman on Missouri’s roster.
“It’s a little weird, because I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” he said. “I want to lead, but I don’t want to jump in there until I can show what I know.”
Stannard, who said he was looking for change of scenery after former Memphis coach Justin Fuente left for Virginia Tech, was cleared Thursday for his first practice with Missouri, according to Odom.
“That was good to get him out there and, luckily for him, he had been around some of the previous practices and was able to pick up some terminology and some of those things,” Odom said. “He fit in today and got a couple snaps there.”
Stannard will play in Missouri’s first fall-camp scrimmage Saturday, which is closed to the public.
Odom, Sterk set to meet again
New Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk met with Odom and his senior staff Thursday after he was introduced to discuss a stalled football facilities upgrade.
Sterk wanted Odom’s input on what he views as the biggest need for the Tigers’ football program.
“I want to understand where that facility is at, where we need to go from here and then help set a direction with that,” Sterk said.
Odom came away pleased after the initial meeting.
“It went awesome,” he said. “I’m excited. We’re going to meet again today, and it’s obviously a priority for everyone involved. He’s going to take ownership in it, working together with a group of people and we’ll get dirt moving pretty quickly.”
Olathe North grad and sophomore Josh Moore is bumping from the interior of the defensive line out to defensive end, new defensive line coach Jackie Shipp confirmed.
Meanwhile, Odom said Friday that junior walk-on Oke Akushe had switched from wide receiver to cornerback.
Miege duo spotted at Mizzou
Bishop Miege senior wide receiver Jafar Armstrong, who committed to Missouri in June, was spotted in the cafeteria during an unofficial visit to watch the Tigers practice.
He had an interesting teammate in tow, sophomore quarterback Graham Mertz, who has yet to start a game for the Stags but did participate in MU’s “Night at the Zou” camp last month.
▪ Redshirt freshman wide receiver Justin Smith was added to Missouri’s list of walking wounded Friday, showing up on the sidelines with a wrap on his left knee.
Odom said Smith had fluid drained from the swollen knee, but that a precautionary MRI revealed no structural damage. He was optimistic Smith could participate in Saturday’s scrimmage.
▪ Sophomore wide receiver Emanuel Hall and redshirt freshman running back Ryan Williams also remain sidelined because of right hamstring strains.
▪ Senior wide receiver Chris Black, a graduate-student transfer from Alabama, went through special-teams drills without restriction, but he donned a red pullover for offensive drills. He had been sidelined this week because of a left hamstring strain.
▪ Redshirt freshman quarterback T.J. Warren (right hamstring), sophomore linebacker Brandon Lee (right shoulder sprain) and two redshirt freshman offensive linemen — A.J. Harris (right wrist) and Tanner Owen (illness) — also remained out or limited at practice. But freshman linebacker Trey Baldwin (head) was a full practice participant.