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Odom plans to play all the freshmen as much as possible

The NCAA’s change to the redshirt rule means err’body getting some clock this season.

Vanderbilt v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

When new NCAA rules kicked in last season allowing coaches to play anyone as much as four games while still holding onto a potential redshirt, the mood in a lot of locker rooms across the country changed. It’s already impacted the Missouri Tigers in their pursuit and successful recruitment of Kelly Bryant.

It’s going to continue to impact the Tigers this season, with Barry Odom using as much as he can muster from his incoming freshmen class.

With Brendan Scales’ injury putting the Tigers in a precarious position with their Tight End depth, and Niko Hea impressing everyone in camp, it’s brought out the suppositions when it comes to freshman eligibility. Logically it make sense to give your youth as much of a look as possible, and certain guys will obviously play all eight games.

In Dave Matter’s chat on Thursday, the topic came up with freshmen to keep an eye on and here’s what he had to say:

Odom said Thursday he’d be shocked if TE Niko Hea doesn’t play the whole season. He’s one for sure. Then I think you look at Maurice Massey. I’ve been really impressed with the receiver from Kirkwood. He’s long and uses his length to go up and get the ball where no one else can reach it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a second-team outside receiver sooner than later.

Strong safety Stacy Brown has worked with the second unit. The two guys ahead of him (Perkins and Oliver) are both seniors, so there’s an incentive to get Brown some laying time so he can start next year. Jalani Williams has gotten second-team work most of camp. He’s in position to get backup minutes and play on special teams.

The Tigers have 25 freshmen scholarship and non-scholarship players. Three of the four getting hyped a bit makes sense. Jalani Williams was a highly touted 4-star prospect out of St. Louis and a huge recruiting win for Odom and his staff. He has long projected as a long term answer in the free safety spot and was always likely to earn playing time sooner than later with his ability to cover a lot of ground.

Brown wasn’t a super highly rated prospect, but when you consider his excellent size (6’2 and 190 lbs) and speed (he was on the track team in high school) it would make sense the staff would want to get him some reps as well. Brown and Williams could provide a look into the defensive backfield of the future.

Massey has great size and speed and well...

It’s not exactly game speed... but that’s incredible body control in a tight window for a freshman wideout.

The surprise is Hea. When Hea committed, word was the staff was very excited about him and his ability. He was a bit of a tweener in high school at CBC in St. Louis, mostly playing at the wideout position. But with a frame to add weight with his size and good speed, there was reason to think he could pan out. I’m not sure most thought he’d pan out to playing as a true freshman, but here we are. It’s either a very good sign for Hea’s future or a remark on the current depth at Tight End.

Then along with those four, you have Connor Bazelak pushing at the backup Quarterback position. Others that I’m going to keep my eye on:

  • Jamie Pettway - The Georgia linebacker has great size and speed and was one of the more underrated recruits in the class, plus he plays outside linebacker which has some reps available.
  • Jack Buford - One the highly rated recruits from St. Louis, Buford has an excellent rep as an interior blocker. With some of the experience on the offensive line, the staff will want to be getting snaps for some younger guys and Buford fits the bill there.
  • Z’Core Brooks - if they don’t find some minutes for a dude at defensive end named Z’core, then what are we even doing here?

We’re just two weeks away from Mizzou Football. So what freshmen are you most looking forward to seeing play?