Camp Notebook: Defense Re-Claims Black Jerseys

MUTIGERS.COM Sheldon Richardson
Sheldon Richardson

Aug. 11, 2011

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Missouri Tiger football team held practice Thursday morning in full pads on the John Kadlec Athletic Fields, and the defense won a spirited practice as they broke a tie in the final period.

After a long waiting period, junior college transfer Sheldon Richardson joined his teammates on the field for the first time, after receiving clearance Wednesday afternoon.

After consecutive wins by the offense over the last two days, the Tiger defense got back in the winner's circle Thursday with a spirited effort that came down to the last period. With the score tied, the defense came up with some huge plays for the win, including interceptions by LB Andrew Wilson and CB Robert Steeples.

Wilson got things started for the #1 defense, when he intercepted QB Ashton Glaser on the offense's 10-yardline. Wilson had dropped back in pass coverage on the play, and the flow took him to the left sideline, and when Glaser's pass was in the air, he adjusted and made a leaping grab to secure the ball. He showed great athleticism on the play, to go with the notoriety he's gained of being one of the hardest hitters on the team. Earlier in the day, he leveled WR T.J. Moe on a route over the middle. Moe caught the ball heading toward the numbers, and just as he collected the ball and began to turn upfield, Wilson laid him out. Credit Moe for holding onto the ball, but Wilson definitely got the crowd buzzing with his hit.

With the #1 defense getting out to a 5-0 lead in the final scoring period, the #1 offense started from its own 1-yardline against the #2 defense. After QB James Franklin got a few yards on a keeper, TB Kendial Lawrence had a tough run between the tackles to score another for the offense. Franklin hit TB De'Vion Moore on a swing pass out of the backfield, and it looked like it could be a big gainer, but LB Donovan Bonner showed good closing speed and stopped him before he could advance more than a yard or two. Steeples struck the final blow for the defense on the next play when he corralled a pass that deflected off of TE Michael Egnew in the left flat. Steeples gathered the ball in traffic and spun near the 10-yardline to break free. He scampered into the endzone untouched from there for the decisive score.

The Tigers will hold a brief special teams workout this afternoon, and then will get some fun time at the pool at the student recreation center on campus. Mizzou will hold one practice Friday morning, in preparation for the first scrimmage of the fall, scheduled for this Saturday at 8 a.m.

Coach Pinkel had good things to say about the effort his team showed on Thursday.

"(We) had a really good practice, very competitive," Pinkel said. "The defense won, I think it's 2-2 now for the competition we have for the entire camp. There certainly were mistakes on both sides of the ball, certainly we've got a long way to go, but if you come out and compete on each and every play we become a better football team. When we get the mistakes corrected, we'll show a lot of improvement," he said.

The talk of the day among observers was the first appearance of junior college transfer DL Sheldon Richardson. After missing the first week of camp due to eligibility issues, Mizzou was informed Wednesday afternoon that Richardson was cleared to play. He took to the Kadlec Athletic Fields in full pads, and showed flashes throughout the day of just what he's capable of adding to an already stout defensive line.

"We're excited about having him back and I know he's real excited," said Pinkel. "He's worked real hard for this opportunity and he's got a lot of humility. Now, he starts at the bottom, like Jeremy Maclin started at the bottom, like everybody starts at the bottom, and you work your way up. He's a competitor, so we'll see where it goes," Pinkel said.

Richardson, who visited with media after practice for the first time as a Tiger, said that he's got work to do, but that he's ready for the challenge.

"I'm real excited to be out here, it's been a long process and I'm glad it's all done," Richardson said. "(My expectations are) to just do my job. Do my job and get some playing time. I've got a good defensive line in front of me, and it's going to be hard working my way up, so I'll just come out here every day and work hard," he said.

Stay tuned to for continuing coverage of pre-season camp.



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