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Spring Football 2012 Begins At Missouri

Sheldon Richardson will miss the spring, along with 90 percent of the offensive line. (All photos via Bill Carter.)
Sheldon Richardson will miss the spring, along with 90 percent of the offensive line. (All photos via Bill Carter.)

Spring practice began yesterday at Mizzou, and there was just too damn much information here to squeeze into the links post. Here are some recent links, plus a look at the start-of-spring depth chart.

  • Spring Previews Mizzou Football Prepares for New Era
    The Trib (Dave Matter): Spring Training: Defensive line and Linebacker (SEC Blog): Opening Spring Camp: Missouri
    CBS Sports: Spring Practice Primer: Missouri
    Athlon Sports: Missouri Tigers 2012 Spring Preview
    College Football Talk: Sheldon Richardson to miss the spring for Mizzou
    We Are Mizzou: 2012 Mizzou Football Spring Preview
  • Practice Reports
    The Trib (Dave Matter): Tigers make spring debut

    I'll offer more practice analysis and observations once the full pads come on, but just a few quick thoughts from the 7-on-7 drills from Tuesday: Gaines looked to be in midseason form while covering the team's best wideouts, disrupting what would have been a couple completions from Franklin to Lucas and Washington. Later, Gaines stuck with Washington downfield and picked off an underthrown pass from Franklin on a go route. … Wilson might be playing slightly out of position on the strong side with Ebner in the middle, but throw in Gooden on the weak side and you've got three seasoned veterans in the linebacker corps. Like he did last August, Ebner looks lighter and a step faster. This threesome should fit in fine in the SEC. … McGaffie might steal some of Moe's snaps this year. He looked especially quick running shorts patterns out of the slot and picking up yardage after the catch. … This looks like the year Hunt is going to press for a role in the passing game. He looked notably sure-handed catching passes on the outside.

    The Missourian: Injuries hamper Missouri's first spring practice
    KC Star: Tigers begin spring football practice

    Moe’s attitude was shared by some of his teammates. The Tigers realize they must focus on themselves and the simple task of getting better everyday before they start visualizing what it’s going to be like playing defending BCS champion Alabama and Florida this fall.

    "We’re all excited," said senior linebacker Will Ebner, "but we’re not going to overhype it too much because we’ve got to stay humble, get our team to where it needs to be."

    Receiver Marcus Lucas said he sees the move to the SEC as an opportunity for the program to make a fresh start. But he wouldn’t offer any guesses as to just how well the Tigers will fare, though they are working hard.

    "The best thing I can say is just wait and see," said Lucas, who is eager to see how much more support Missouri will receive this season. "We just want everyone to be with us and enjoy the ride."

    Read more here:
    PowerMizzou: Feels Like Spring

    it's hard to gauge how the players measure up after the first day. However, Jimmie Hunt looked like a different player. Hunt is listed at 6-foot-1, 215-pounds (although he doesn't look that heavy), but is now lined up as the X-receiver, an outside position. In 2011, he lined up inside, but never saw meaningful time. For his first two years on campus, it seemed like Hunt would flash his athleticism, but then would fail to develop consistency with his route running and hands.

    "It's just getting more confident," Hunt said. "I've been behind some older guys, and now I feel like I'm getting my turn."

    It's much too early to make a bold statement, but Hunt caught everything that was thrown to him on Tuesday, including a couple of difficult catches. If he can develop that elusive consistency, Hunt could be a legitimate option for 2012.

    PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: Sights of Spring
    PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: Pinkel Talks

Now to the depth chart. Returning starters in bold, injured players in red. I didn't worry too much about reprinting some of the walk-ons' names. Sorry, walk-ons.

James Franklin (6'2, 225, Jr.)
Corbin Berkstresser (6'3, 235, RSFr.)
Ashton Glaser (6'0, 205, Jr.)

Exactly as we would have expected.

Kendial Lawrence (5'9, 195, Sr.)
Jared McGriff-Culver (5'11, 250, Sr.)
Greg White (6'1, 215, So.)
Marcus Murphy (5'9, 185, So.)
Henry Josey (5'10, 190, Jr.) :(

Presumably because of injury, Marcus Murphy starts the spring at No. 4. But if he is full-strength (and all indications are that he is), then he will almost certainly make a move soon. He was quite possibly better than Lawrence last spring, but I can't imagine he makes it all the way to No. 1.

And yes, Jared Culver is now Jared McGriff-Culver. THE CRIME DOG.

Bud Sasser, Tight End

T.J. Moe (6'0, 200, Sr.)
Gahn McGaffie (5'10, 190, Sr.)
Kerwin Stricker (6'1, 215, Jr.)
Sheldon Gerau (6'0, 200, RSFr.)

Marcus Lucas (6'5, 215, Jr.)
Rolandis Woodland (6'3, 200, Sr.)
Wesley Leftwich (6'1, 200, RSFr.)
Darius White (6'3, 205, Jr.)

L'Damian Washington (6'4, 195, Jr.)
Jimmie Hunt (6'0, 215, Jr.)

Eric Waters (6'4, 240, Jr.)
Jaleel Clark (6'4, 220, Jr.)
Bud Sasser (6'2, 220, So.)

The most interesting development here, of course, is the move of Clark and Sasser to the tight end position. As mentioned in the practice reports above, they won't be lining up in a three-point stance by any means -- they will be the primary "tight ends" when the tight end position is actually the "WR-Y" position in the five-wide.

This, of course, leads us to make some assumptions. Among them: we might possibly see Dorial Green-Beckham listed as a "tight end" this fall. We have long been assuming that a bigger receiver like Marcus Lucas or DGB would end up in the Danario Alexander role of "WR lined up as TE," and since Lucas didn't make the move, it is quite possible that DGB might. And I just cannot tell you how happy a Moe-Lucas-DGB-Washington foursome makes me, especially if, as alluded at PowerMizzou above, Jimmie Hunt is ready to make a surge as well.

Beyond that, though, I do love that this somewhat opens up opportunities for Sasser and/or Clark; they were getting drowned out in the depth chart a bit.

Elvis Fisher (6'5, 295, Sr.)
Taylor Chappell (6'5, 290, RSFr.)
Anthony Gatti (6'6, 295, So.)

Travis Ruth (6'2, 295, Sr.)
Max Copeland (6'3, 290, Jr.)

Mitch Morse (6'5, 295, So.)
Brad McNulty (6'4, 295, RSFr.)
Connor McGovern (6'4, 295, RSFr.)

Jack Meiners (6'6, 310, Sr.)
Nick Demien (6'6, 295, So.)
Mark Hill (6'6, 290, Jr.)

Justin Britt (6'6, 300, Jr.)
Chris Freeman (6'8, 325, So.)
Michael Boddie (6'5, 285, RSFr.)

I'm really disappointed that Anthony Gatti will be missing the spring. I thought he might be an interesting factor in the race at guard, and he still may be at some point, but spring provides some valuable reps for sophomores who haven't played much. Meanwhile, Ruth has moved to guard to get Morse some reps snapping the ball, but it wouldn't completely surprise me if the move became semi-permanent ... if Morse is up for the challenge, at least. At this point, one can assume that Fisher, Ruth, Meiners and Britt will be starting (at one position or another), leaving a mess of Morse/Meiners/Demien/Hill/Gatti to fight it out for the fifth spot. Right now, it's advantage: Morse.

The path is clear for Kony Ealy to have a big spring.

Michael Sam (6'3, 260, Jr
Brayden Burnett (6'2, 24, Jr.)
Derrion Thomas (6'2, 225, So.)

Kony Ealy (6'5, 260, So.)
Shane Ray (6'3, 245, RSFr.)
Brad Madison (6'4, 260, Sr.)

Some injuries are actually good things. We know what Brad Madison can do when healthy, so it's time to find out just how advanced Kony Ealy and Shane Ray are with extra reps up top.

Jimmy Burge (6'2, 285, Sr.)
Matt Hoch (6'5, 290, So.)
Sheldon Richardson (6'4, 295, Sr.)

Lucas Vincent (6'2, 295, So.)
George White (6'3, 290, Sr.)
Marvin Foster (6'1, 295, Jr.)

And some injuries are bad things. I really wanted to finish spring super-excited about the Richardson-Vincent combo (and I wanted Richardson to actually get a full year of practice for once). Still, a nice spring from Vincent would allay some of my biggest concerns for 2012.

And of course Marvin Foster is hurt. Of course he is.

Andrew Wilson (6'3, 235, Jr.)
Michael Brennan (6'2, 225, So.)
Kentrell Brothers (6'1, 230, RSFr.)

Will Ebner (6'0, 230, Sr.)
Donovan Bonner (6'1, 240, Jr.)
Jared Parham (6'2, 230, So.)
Brandon Durant (6'0, 220, RSFr.)

Zaviar Gooden (6'2, 230, Sr.)
Darvin Ruise (6'1, 240, So.)
Clarence Green (6'0, 220, RSFr.)

I have no idea who Michael Brennan is, but he's ahead of Kentrell Brothers, so he makes this list.

E.J. Gaines began the spring with a bang.

E.J. Gaines (5'10, 190, Jr.)
Robert Steeples (6'1, 195, Sr.)
Ernest Payton (6'2, 210, RSFr.)
David Johnson (5'11, 190, RSFr.)

Kip Edwards (6'1, 200, Sr.)
Randy Ponder (5'10, 195, Jr.)
Xavier Smith (5'11, 185, So.)

One thing the practice reports all had in common: some gushing about E.J. Gaines.

I'm really interested in the progress of Ernest Payton. Reports were high on him last August, and he could make an impact playing such a big role (i.e. the Enormous Cornerback position).

Braylon Webb (6'0, 210, So.)
Matt White (6'0, 195, Jr.)
Ian Simon (5'11, 190, RSFr.)

Kenronte Walker (6'0, 210, Sr.)
Daniel Easterly (6'4, 195, So.)
Tavon Bolden (6'1, 205, Jr.)
Cortland Browning (6'1, 210, RSFr.)

I'm really happy there are (KNOCK ON WOOD) no known injuries in this unit yet. Of the seven players above, I think we can probably assume that Walker will be starting ... and the other six all probably have a shot. I was high on Webb last year before he got hurt (hooray, small sample size), but I'm ready to see what Browning and Easterly can do, and I'm curious where Bolden ends up on the depth chart.