At some point on Feb. 6, 2013, scrambling to put together some last-minute biography information about an unheralded recruit on signing day, Missouri football strategic communications staffer Patrick Crawford did his job well.
“A multisport in-state athlete who excelled on the basketball court for Lincoln Prep High School in Kansas City brings his talents to the gridiron for Mizzou,” went the first line of Charles Harris’ signee bio, emphasis mine.
In the years after, as Harris fashioned himself into a fearsome pass rusher and first-round draft pick, the television analysts who would swoop in to do Missouri games on a weekly basis ended up repeatedly doing their jobs worse than Crawford did his on that cold February day.
“You know, he didn’t even play that much football in high school,” one of them probably said after a sack early in the 2015 season. “He was a basketball star.”
“You can really see those basketball skills shining through,” one of them probably said after a bone-crunching tackle for loss late in 2015. “Did you know he was a basketball star in high school?”
“That Charles Harris: I bet he’s glad he decided to focus on football instead of basketball,” one of them probably said as his draft bona fides solidified in 2016. “Hoops was his first love, you know.”
And on. And on. And on. And on.
That’s what happens with good players that don’t have a huge national profile. The broadcasters usually don’t have that much time — or, frankly, desire, in some cases — to learn more than one tidbit about them, to bust out at an opportune time during the game.
Not “Charles Harris’ father made a career out of long-haul trucking to support his family.” That would’ve been interesting.
Not even “Charles Harris was a competitive boxer as a youth.” That would have also been interesting. And, you know, PROBABLY MORE APPLICABLE TO HIS ACTIONS ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD.
sorry for shouting.
Nope, just “Charles Harris used to play basketball.”
By the way, did you know Charles Harris used to play basketball?
Well, people doing Missouri games can’t beat that drum this season, because Harris is off to play basketballing with the Miami Dolphins now.
So I’ve decided to help those TV crews out. Here are 10 storylines analysts can beat into the ground when talking about the 2017 Tigers.
1. True Sons
Everybody loves quarterbacks. And everybody loves the “his diddy played here” story.
And, wouldn’t you know it, but Missouri has two quarterbacks on its roster whose diddies played there. And both of those diddies used to be offensive linemen.
I can already see the Tom Rinaldi segment writing itself...
Drew Lock, of whom some of you may have heard, comes from father, Andy, who lettered all four years from 1986-89 and was co-captain of the 1989 team.
Micah Wilson’s father, Curtis, lettered for the Tigers from 1987-88 and was co-captain in 1988.
Wait, you mean to tell me Andy Lock and Curtis Wilson were teammates?! I’m getting lightheaded with excitement over the breathless presentation this factoid is sure to elicit as Micah subs in to a 34-3 game in the fourth quarter against Purdue and the broadcasters are looking to kill time.
Now I’m sad.
Oh, and did I mention Drew also played basketball in high school?
2. They Get It From Their Mama
Now look here as I add two shameless plugs in the span of a couple sentences.
Before Laura Lock was a proud Columbia College alum (shameless plug #1), she was Laura Albert. And Laura Albert, as this Columbia Tribune story will tell you (shameless plug #2), was a 1,000-point scorer and speedy middle infielder for the Centralia High School Panthers.
So, if announcers ever get tired of playing the “Andy” card, they can give Laura Lock some athletic props as well.
While we’re on the subject of star athlete mothers: cornerback Finis Stribling IV.
His mother, Laquita, was the first woman to be offered a full athletic scholarship at Arkansas-Pine Bluff. She was a five-time All-American in track during her collegiate career and was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in 2000.
Laquita is also a past president of the Rotary Club of Nashville, which is among the 10 largest Rotary clubs in the world. She was the first African-American woman to serve in that position for the Nashville Rotary Club.
3. Tru Son
Sticking with the themes of mothers and Mizzou legacies, let’s visit with Alec Abeln for a moment.
His mother, Julie, was a “friend of” Truman the Tiger during her time at Missouri. That means she was Truman the Tiger. But Truman the Tiger is officially a tiger. So she was just a “friend.”
But, alas, they got a new Truman suit during Julie’s time on campus and the two couldn’t be “friends” anymore because she was too short.
Alec also played volleyball in high school. As an offensive lineman pushing 270 pounds.
The physics of this fascinate me.
4. War Machine
This one may be one of the more obvious on the list, but I’ll go with it anyway.
No, it’s not a coincidence that Lee’s Summit native cornerback Logan Cheadle shares his last name with a Golden Globe award-winning actor from Kansas City. Don Cheadle is his cousin.
And no, they’re not cousins in the way that Chris and Miguel Paul were. They’re actual cousins. Who actually interact with each other semi-regularly on Twitter.
Good stuff all around.
5. In Memoriam
This one’s cool, but also sad.
Here’s a line from the bio of redshirt freshman defensive end Tre Williams, a Columbia native and Rock Bridge grad:
“Plans to major in medicine at Mizzou to treat gastrointestinal ailments, a disease that he lost his great grandfather to — his close relationship with his grandfather has led him to dedicate his career in his honor.”
Seems like a very worthy storyline to get beaten into the ground and a very worthy goal for which to aspire.
OK, so let’s leave the realm of family matters and dive into some academic achievement.
Two of the biggest men on the field for the Tigers this year may also be two of the smartest.
Coleman is also his high school’s record holder in the discus, and Simms has quite a collection of Air Jordans, which should endear him to teammate and fellow sneakerhead J’Mon Moore.
And fellow lineman Kevin Pendleton can compare collecting notes with Simms. Pendleton has a model car collection.
7. Policy Maker
In January, the SEC named its inaugural Football Student-Athlete Leadership Council. It’s a group of 14 representatives — one from the football team at each SEC school — whose job it is to “serve as a conduit of communication to the conference office on issues related to student-athlete experience and student-athlete wellness” and “provide feedback on proposed rules governing the SEC and NCAA.”
The group met for the first time in February.
Missouri’s representative? Wideout Nate Brown.
So he’s the lobbying player voice for Missouri football in league and national matters, basically. Think of him as the Tigers’ union representative.
Oh wait. We’re not supposed to use that “u” word in conjunction with the NCAA...
8. Cowboy Bebop
When senior defensive end Marcell Frazier isn’t lining up to be the next galaxy-eating product of “D-Line ‘Zou,” he’s just over to the side being an avid fan of anime.
I don’t have eyes large enough to convey my excitement over this news.
Here’s hoping his public statements on the subject will reach Lucas Vincent/Dragon Ball Z levels.
9. Sweep the Leg
Let’s stick with the Far East theme and also keep checking in with my all-time favorite group of people: the big men.
Oh, what’s this then: 6-foot-5, 325-pound offensive lineman Kyle Mitchell is a black belt in Taekwondo?
Yes. More of this, please.
I realize they’re entirely different disciplines, but I’m still holding out for a Necessary Roughness type moment at some point during Mitchell’s Missouri career.
Then again, isn’t the point of becoming a martial arts master so that you must NEVER use them?
As if there weren’t already enough reasons to love Corey Fatony.
A passing resemblance, sure. But it’s really the backs of their heads in which we’re most interested here. And they must be identical, because Fatony served as a stand-in for Ealy during the filming of the 2012 film Unconditional.
Here’s how IMDB describes it: “A woman's world is shattered after her sweetheart Billy is murdered in a random act of violence. After this tragic event she starts to dig around to find the killer of her husband. On her quest she reunites with her childhood best friend Joe who runs an after school program for children in his neighborhood.”
Ealy played Joe. And, every now and then, Fatony played Ealy.
The movie was fairly well received, with a 67 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (only nine reviews, but still...) and a 7.2 out of 10 from nearly 4,000 user ratings on IMDB.
Unfortunately, Fatony himself doesn’t have an IMDB credit.
But maybe — just maybe -- he was able to get some acting pointers on set.