Aug. 2, 2012
Columbia, Mo. -
A new era began Thursday afternoon on the Kadlec Athletic Fields, as the Missouri Tiger football program opened its 2012 pre-season training camp - its first-ever as a new member of the Southeastern Conference - with a two-hour workout. The weather broke a little, as the temperature hovered around 90 degrees, which was much cooler than what's been the norm this summer in Columbia.
Thursday's practice was held without pads, as NCAA rules prohibit full pads until the fifth practice (scheduled for Monday), so all eyes were on general story lines such as key players returning from injury, newcomers who might have a chance to contribute, among other things.
Prior to practice, the team voted on team captains for the 2012 season, and to no-one's surprise, the chosen included senior LB Will Ebner, senior OL Elvis Fisher, senior LB Zaviar Gooden, and senior WR T.J. Moe. Fisher is a captain for the second-consecutive year, making him the first repeat captain since QB Brad Smith.
From an injury standpoint, junior OL Justin Britt is expected to miss the first couple of weeks of camp due to a Jones fracture in his left foot, an injury he sustained in workouts two weeks ago. Sophomore DL Lucas Vincent was held out of practice as well, due a torn pectoral muscle injury suffered in workouts before camp. Vincent isn't expected to miss any game action. Freshman TB Russell Hansbrough practiced with a red injury bib on after suffering a sprained ankle in workouts last week.
Junior TB Henry Josey didn't participate but was busy doing rehab work on the side as he continues to build strength from his season-ending knee injury from last year. Head Coach Gary Pinkel said to reporters after practice that Josey is doing great in his program, and that no decision has been made on his status for 2012, but that there is no pressure to rush back.
"Time will tell," Pinkel said. "I would suggest that it's going to be difficult, just in terms of timing. The most important thing is he's healed and he's 100 percent and he's ready to go. That's the most important thing because he's got two years left and we want to be smart about what we do."
"He's just got such a great attitude, is such a great kid, you know. And it's so neat to see him just out here. He's always had a great attitude. That's why he's going to come back from this. His surgeries are over, he's got a tremendous work ethic."
The final injury update concerned junior OL Mark Hill, who missed all of spring football with blood clot issues related very similar to that of former Tiger standout LB Andrew Gachkar. Hill had surgery to correct the situation, and had planned on getting back to the field, but after a setback in the off-season, the decision was made to retire from playing ball. Hill will remain a valuable member of the team and serve as a coach, of sorts.
The Tigers will return to the practice field Friday morning at 7:15 a.m. Stay tuned to www.mutigers.com for continued updates.
Here were some quotes gleaned from Head Coach Gary Pinkel when he met with reporters after Thursday's practice:
"Overall anytime you look at young players and you see their practice habits and the things they have to learn to become good practice players, I thought our effort was good. We got a break today weather-wise, so that was good. A lot of good things, a lot of good work and just study film here and get going and have a good practice tomorrow."
ON James Franklin'S PERFORMANCE THURSDAY
"I thought James did pretty good overall. If you just walked out here and didn't know he had surgery, you wouldn't think anything was up. I kind of marvel at him, he's a remarkable athlete to be able to do what he's doing after having that surgery, you know, we have about a month left before we play, so that's very, very encouraging to think where we were back in spring football. He's got a great attitude, and obviously he's genetically gifted."
ON INJURIES AND THE WORK ETHIC OF THE TEAM
"The story on red is that you get backup players ready to play. That's our challenge as coaches, as players, and certainly my challenge as head coach. You always want to stay healthy. We've had a great summer. Coach Ivey said that this is the hardest-working group we've ever had since we've been here, and that's saying a lot because we've had a lot of great workers."
ON THE EXPECTATIONS FOR Sheldon Richardson
"He has a chance to be an impact player. He's very talented. It's nice, for the first time since he's been here, he's got to do the things that our team does to get better and become a better player, and that's all summer long. He missed all last summer because he wasn't enrolled in school, he missed most of two-a-days, he made it to the bowl game, but he missed winter conditioning, he missed winter lifting, he missed spring football. So all the things that help develop a young player - and it's no fault of his at all - but all the things how we made Ziggy Hood a great player, finally all summer he got to work all summer long and now he's doing it in two-a-days. I think he has high expectations for himself. He has the potential to be really, really good. The good news is, he's been working real hard at it."