Time to announce this year's captains:
The only slight surprise here is that I assumed Kentrell Brothers might be in line ahead of Ian Simon. But since I don't spend any time in the Mizzou locker room (believe it or not), that was an uneducated assumption. Congrats to Simon, Kenya Dennis, Russell Hansbrough, and Evan Boehm.
Dennis is the second captain in as many seasons to begin his Missouri career as a junior-college transfer. In 2014, the team voted defensive end Markus Golden as a captain. Golden began his college career at Hutchinson C.C. in Kansas; Dennis transferred to Missouri prior to the 2014 season from Hinds C.C. in Mississippi.
"It's pretty big for me," Dennis said. "Obviously these guys look at me and they look up to me. They respect me. I just want to lead these guys and come out here everyday and make sure they have a positive model to look at."
With Charles Harris the only defensive lineman with starting experience, the front four across the line of scrimmage faces its own challenges this month with the offseason purge of personnel, especially the season-ending injuries sustained by defensive tackle Harold Brantley in his June car crash. That’s where a seasoned group of linebackers and defensive backs should be valuable, especially under new defensive coordinator Barry Odom. Some players have hinted that MU’s new defensive play-caller could rely on more creative ways to attack opponents this fall.
"You might see the corners come down and play man and get in guys’ faces more," Dennis said. "We’re just trying to put more pressure on guys. Obviously we’re losing depth on the D-line, so the guys on the back have to be more aggressive to help those guys in the front."
"I’ve totally bought into the left tackle," McGovern said. "I enjoy it. It’s something new to learn and gives me some extra stuff to do. It’s not monotonous. I enjoy it out there. It’s the position that every offensive lineman wants to play. It’s the superstar offensive lineman, so it’s fun to get out there and practice it and play it. Yeah, I’ve fully accepted that role."
The toughest thing might be switching from the right side to the left, where everything is wonky and opposite from the instincts he’s developed in recent seasons.
"I got used to playing on the right," said McGovern, who said the knee injury that caused him to miss the spring game is completely healed. "I played on the right for so long. Just switching sides and just trying to be ambidextrous and being able to play as many positions as I can."
Justin Smith is the greatest
McGovern's even picked out a favorite Smith weightlifting story already.
"The one Coach Ivey likes to tell, I guess when" Smith "played, if you were a local kid you could come work out with the team in the spring," McGovern said. "He was still in high school and Coach Ivey was a grad assistant in the weight room. Justin Smith walks in and says, 'Hey Coach, what's the clean record?' Coach told him and Justin did a couple reps, warmed up and said, 'Alright, put that on the bar.'
"He walks up, breaks it, rips his shirt and walks out of the weight room. When he was in high school. He wasn't even on the team yet. It's not even a legend. It's the thing that follows Justin, how great he is and strong he was. There's a million stories like that. He was trying to get a pump on on game day and they were always telling him not to lift."
God, I'm going to enjoy a season's worth of random Justin Smith stories.