Junior wide receiver Nate Brown, who led Missouri with four receiving touchdowns last season, will miss six to eight weeks because of a left high ankle sprain, the team announced Wednesday.
“Nate was doing a great job,” MU wide receivers coach Andy Hill said. “He had a really good scrimmage Saturday and was doing great consistently in practice. It’s disappointing, because he was such a great kid.”
Brown, a four-star prospect in the 2014 recruiting class from North Gwinnett High in Suwanee, Ga., finished second for the Tigers with 27 receptions and 326 yards last season.
First-hear Mizzou coach Barry Odom said surgery remains a possibility.
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“They’ve got another meeting tonight (with doctors) to see if that’s the way they were going to go or not,” Odom said. “If it is, it’s a pretty quick procedure. … If they do or don’t the time frame is around the same time.”
Brown will be out until at least October and might miss half the season at the long end of the recovery timeline, bringing into play the possibility of a redshirt.
“I anticipate him coming back and helping us this year …,” Odom said. “Some of that will depend on what he wants to do. Some of it will depend on where we’re at depth at that particular point. If he’s in a position where he can come back health-wise and help us win, if Nate wants to do it, obviously I want guys to have an opportunity to do what they want to do.”
Brown was one of two returning starters at outside receiver along with junior J’Mon Moore. His absence probably means more reps for some combination of Justin Smith, Keyon Dilosa, Dominic Collins and Eric Laurent.
Meanwhile, sophomore Emanuel Hall, who had been splitting first-team reps with Brown early in camp, remains sidelined becaue of a strained hamstring.
Four other players — redshirt freshman offensive tackle Tanner Owen (illness), senior tight end Sean Culkin (left MCL sprain), freshman offensive lineman Darvis Holmes (left shoulder sprain) and redshirt freshman running back Ryan Williams (hamstring) — remained sidelined for Wednesday’s practice.
Holmes will have surgery on the shoulder Thursday, but he’s expected to be available again at some point during the season.
Meanwhile, redshirt freshman cornerback T.J. Warren (hamstring) remains limited in practice.
However, sophomore linebackers Terez Hall (pulled tooth) and Brandon Lee (sprained shoulder) returned along with senior wide receiver Chris Black (hamstring).
Junior tight end Jason Reese sported a yellow reversible practice jersey with the Olympic rings and the words “Lawrence, Kan.” underneath when offensive players met with reporters during lunch.
What’s the deal with the Kansas love?
Reese explained that he received the shirt at a sorority function when he visited a friend who attends KU, smiling as he offered the explanation.
“You guys are grilling me,” he said. “I’m going home and changing now. I’m still Mizzou forever.”
The Tigers haven’t played the Border War rival Jayhawks since 2011 now they’re no longer conference rivals, but some things remain faux pas.
New kickoff specialist
Sophomore punter Corey Fatony said Wednesday that he won’t handle kickoff duties this season.
Fatony was pressed into that role last season when then-senior kicker Andrew Baggett suffered back spasms during fall camp.
He excelled too, finishing 29th nationally in average kickoff distance with 18 touchbacks on 43 kickoffs.
Fatony’s touchback percentage of 41.86 percent ranked in the top 50 nationally, though the Tigers allowed 26.5 yards per kickoff return — 124th-worst among 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
Freshman Tucker McCann, junior walk-on Turner Adams and Kansas transfer Nick Bartolotta, a walk-on junior, are in the mix to replace Baggett as the kicker and/or take over for Fatony on kickoffs.