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August 26, 2011
The Missouri Tigers wrapped up three weeks of fall camp on Thursday afternoon. PowerMizzou.com was at every single practice and hands out our camp awards. Some are hard-hitting, some are just for fun, but here's our list of those who stood out in pre-season camp.
Offensive MVP: We have to go with Kendial Lawrence here. After a strong spring that earned him most improved honors at his position, Lawrence posted three 60-yard touchdown runs in two scrimmages and was clearly the best back throughout camp.
Defensive MVP: Without a doubt, it's Dominique Hamilton. Day in and day out, Hamilton was the best player on the field. With him, Missouri gave up 114 yards on the ground through its first seven games. Without him, every team except Kansas ran for at least 152. That's the definition of valuable.
Offensive Breakout Player: This goes to sophomore wideout Marcus Lucas. Last year, many of us were openly wondering what Lucas had done to forego a redshirt season. He wasn't bad, he just wasn't noticeable. This year, you noticed him. Daily.
Defensive Breakout Player: A tie between Trey Hobson and Brayden Burnett. Hobson is earning first-team reps at corner as he continues to pick up practice interceptions at a crazy rate. Burnett was good enough that he displaced spring phenom Kony Ealy on the second-team at defensive end.
Last Chance Award: With Eric Waters spending most of camp in a red jersey, Andrew Jones came up big. He made a number of nice catches and got in the end zone on multiple occasions. While Michael Egnew will get the vast majority of the snaps at tight end, Jones can fill a role and should easily exceed his season total for receptions (one) in 2010.
Thrown Into the Fire Award: Had we put together a pre-camp list of the players Missouri could least afford to lose, Elvis Fisher would have been in the top three. Missouri lost him for the season to a ruptured patellar tendon. That thrust Justin Britt into the starting lineup at left tackle, his third position in five months. Ready or not, Britt is in the spotlight.
Increasing Value Award: The starting quarterback is almost always the most important player on a football team. Earlier this week, I heard Brian Billick state that NFL teams have long thought you shouldn't waste big money on a backup quarterback because if your starter goes down, you won't be very good anyway. In college ball, you want to stockpile as many good signal callers as you can. Missouri has had an amazing run of keeping quarterbacks healthy (exactly three quarterbacks have started games over the last nine seasons). Based on what we saw in camp, the Tigers have to have that string continue. The jury isn't in yet on James Franklin. How good he will be is in question. What is not in question is that he is BY FAR the best quarterback on this team right now. If Franklin goes down, based on what we saw this month, the defense and running game will have to be dominant for the Tigers to keep their heads above water in Big 12 play.
The Santa Claus/Tooth Fairy/Bigfoot Award: Yes, Sheldon Richardson really does exist. It took about two years and two months longer than initially hoped, but Richardson finally showed up about a week into camp. He is currently third on the depth chart, but will have every opportunity to move up starting with the season opener.
The Golden Microphone Award: Missouri media has been blessed. We had William Moore, Lorenzo Williams and Sean Weatherspoon. The guys liked to talk. The go-to interviews on this team both play wide receiver. T.J. Moe can talk endlessly on any subject. Ask him about any player on the team and he'll give you a thoughtful answer. And Jerrell Jackson can break up reporters at any time. You'll see plenty of quotes from those two in every media outlet that covers the Tigers this season.
We Hardly Knew You Award: Freshman defensive tackle Gerrand Johnson transferred to Louisiana-Monroe (where he was originally committed) prior to the start of class his freshman year. At least he was on campus for spring ball, so we did get to talk to him before he left town.
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