stands near the giant white tent, the water dripping off his 6-foot, 230 pound frame.
This is Friday, just minutes after Missouri's second preseason football practice has come to an end, and Ebner - like the rest of his teammates, many of whom are still lounging in the giant tubs of ice water he just emerged from located a few feet away - is tired after a tough conditioning drill.
But Ebner does not mind the feeling, not even a little bit. To the hard-hitting linebacker, who enters the fall entrenched as Missouri's starter in the middle, the familiar feeling of a tough practice in August not only feels like football, but also something else, something just as exciting and potentially far more rewarding.
“A clean slate,” said Ebner, a redshirt senior.
No kidding. That, apparently, is what two consecutive injury-plagued seasons can do to a player. It wasn't that long ago that Ebner was considered an up-and-comer at Missouri, an honorable mention All-Big 12 linebacker who followed up a strong freshman campaign (during which he earned a reputation as a hard-hitter) by racking up 78 tackles, 12 for loss, and four sacks in 12 games as a sophomore in 2009.
Ebner battled through injuries that year - he had a labrum tear repaired in his shoulder before the season and missed some time with a knee injury he suffered during the season - but things only got worse in 2010, when he finished with 47 tackles despite missing two games with a neck strain and playing through a foot injury that bothered him all season. Things got worse for him in 2011, which he ended up missing due to a concussion.
So you understand why this past offseason, Ebner - who says this is the best he's felt physically in a year - worked hard with strength coachPat Ivey
to build up his body in hopes of preventing any more future problems.
“When you get hurt, some of your muscles compensate for other muscles and you get weaknesses in your body,” Ebner said. “So we worked hard - especially last spring and in winter conditioning - on trying to pinpoint those spots on my body and specifically working on those.”
Without going into too much detail, Ivey said he and Ebner made some changes to the way he worked out, in hopes of making sure Brownswood, Tex., native can perform and stay healthy for the first time in three years.
“He's adapted well,” Ivey said. “And Will is so smart he's able to help us train him.”
For instance, Ivey said, Ebner gave him feedback on the exercises he performed, and they worked together to put together the best training plan for him.
“We've been able to say hey what do you think can make you become a better linebacker?” Ivey said. “Do you think a set of squats or lunges would be better for you?”
Ivey says he trusted Ebner - one of four team captains this year, along with linebackerZaviar Gooden T.J. Moe Elvis Fisher
- to give him honest feedback on the exercises he felt made him stronger, which Ebner surely appreciated.
“I wouldn't necessarily do the same workouts the team would be doing, though I would be in there the same time and going through everything with them,” Ebner said.
These days, Ebner is confident in his body. He feels fitter and stronger now, and while he said there isn't a particular moment in camp he's looking forward to, you can bet his enthusiasm about the potential for full, injury-free season isn't going away anytime soon.
“It's like I showed up my freshman year almost,” Ebner said.Day 9 observations
Anthony Gatti Evan Boehm Mitch Morse Max Copeland Jack Meiners Dorial Green-Beckham Michael Scherer Ka'Ra Stewart Brock Bondurant E.J. Gaines Kip Edwards
a little banged up.Injury report
A quick rundown of Missouri's injury situation...
*Senior left guardTravis Ruth
is going to have surgery today.
"We're going to put a pin on his ring finger," Pinkel said. "Hopefully we'll get him back in three or four weeks."
*Senior left tackleElvis Fisher
continued to sit out drills with a sprained ankle. He told me he's "optimistic" he will get a chance to play in Saturday's scrimmage.
*Sophomore defensive tackleMatt Hoch mini neckroll
. Can you spot it?On deck
Here's three quick things I'll be looking at closely entering Missouri's first big scrimmage of the fall tomorrow at Memorial Stadium.1. The kicking game
Trey Barrow Andrew Baggett
is making a bid to take the starting job. Baggett actually usurped the starting job from Barrow in the spring, so it will be interesting to see which kicker rises to the occasion tomorrow.2. DGB
has been coming on strong since pads have come on. As I noted earlier, he's made highlight-reel catches in each of the last three practices. Let's see if he can keep it going in an even more competitive environment tomorrow.3. The big uglies
Evan Boehm Max Copeland
- who will almost certainly get some first-team work - fare in the trenches. Pinkel seems confident in both players, but one has a chance to separate himself over the other tomorrow.To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor and on Instagram at TerezPaylor.