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August 4, 2007

Free practice report: Tigers open camp

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The 2007 football season is officially underway. The Tigers went through the first workout of the fall on Saturday afternoon. Mizzou practiced for a little more than two hours in the scorching heat on the John Kadlec practice fields. By NCAA rule, the first two workouts must be conducted in just shorts, shoulder pads and helmets, which does limit a little bit what the team can do. As we will be all year, PowerMizzou.com was at the practice. Here are our notes from day one:

*There was no downtime for these guys. Summer school classes just ended yesterday. The team did get a week off from conditioning. Lorenzo Williams said, "If we would have had conditioning and class, we would have had some problems."

*Job one is always identifying the players who are not present. Of the 105 players listed on the roster, only Quran Barge was not at practice. The official word is that Barge is dealing with some academic issues. The team is hopeful that Barge will be able to join the squad soon, but nothing is known at this point.

*Also not present is Trenile Washington, the cornerback who has struggled with personal issues for the last couple of years. I did not have a chance to ask about him, but at this point, it appears Washington will not be on the active roster.

*Here is a rundown of some newcomers and where they are playing: Carl Gettis is opening up at cornerback. Gilbert Moye told me safety offered him the best opportunity to play immediately, so he starts there. Jason Townson and Chris Earnhardt are both starting on the defensive line, as is Terrell Resonno. I will get more on whether Townson and Resonno will play end or tackle in the next few days. Tyler Crane, who was expected to play linebacker, is lining up at defensive end. Crane told me the coaches felt he could make contributions more quickly at defensive end. It also offers him a chance to adjust much more quickly because that was his high school position. Bryan Webb, as expected, is being groomed as an offensive linemen.

*A couple more notes on the newcomers: Webb and Dominique Hamilton are both very impressive simply by their size. Webb is up to 270 pounds and Hamilton may have Big 12 size right now. I asked Pig Brown (government name: Cornelius) about Moye. Here is what he said:

"Gilbert's a great guy. I kind of played the big brother role with him. When we got here, I kind of took him under my wing. The guy learns fast. The guy has potential to be one of the best players we'll ever see. He works hard day in and day out."

*The team voted Williams, Brown, Martin Rucker and Jason Ray as its captains for the season. All four are seniors.

*We took a look at some of the lineups on special teams. Steven Blair is the deep snapper, backed up by Jon Gissinger. Tommy Saunders and Chase Patton are handling the holding duties. Among the other players on the first-team punt coverage unit were Tommy Chavis, Van Alexander, Brock Christopher, Justin Garrett, and Pig Brown and Kevin Rutland as the fliers on the outside. Return men were Saunders, Jared Perry, Jeremy Maclin and Marcus Woods. Players on the first-team field goal protection unit were Rucker, Gissinger, Chase Coffman, Ryan Madison, Adam Spieker, Colin Brown, Monte Wyrick and Blair. There was no work on kickoffs that we saw.

*Darnell Terrell was the only player who was in any sort of protective red gear. Terrell missed much of spring with a hamstring problem. He was wearing a red tank top, but he still participated in all drills and it appeared to be something very minor.

*Early in 7-on-7, Greg Bracey made a nice one-handed grab. I have been hearing some talk that Bracey could become more a part of the passing game this year, particularly as a deep threat. He is also, bar none, the funniest player on the team. If you haven't seen "Greg Bracey: Res Hall Linebacker," it is required viewing.

*Will Franklin dropped a couple of balls, but Chase Daniel also found him deep down the sidelines for a long gain in 7-on-7. I really think Franklin is poised for a huge year that should vault him into the first day of the NFL draft.

*The most entertaining quote of the day came from tight ends coach Bruce Walker. As the offense lines up, receivers are supposed to call out the formation. Apparently Gissinger didn't do so forcefully enough for Walker. The coach hollered, "Say it like you've got a pair of…" I'll let you fill in the blank. It even drew a smile from Gary Pinkel.

*Marquis Booker, who as one reporter noted must lead the team in practice interceptions, picked off J.P. Tillman and went the distance the other way during 7-on-7. To his credit, though, Tillman came back on the very next snap with a pretty pass. I thought Tillman looked better today than last year by a good amount.

*Terrell was healthy enough to bait Daniel into an interception on an intermediate route during 7-on-7. It wasn't Daniel's sharpest day, but I have no worries about him. He'll be fine on game day.

*I never thought I'd say I saw a defensive end that made Brian Smith look big, but Tarell Corby looks like he might be even more slight than he was a season ago.

*Only 105 players are allowed in camp. This includes all scholarship players and the "priority" walk-ons. Here is a list of players who are expected to walk on and join the team on the first day of classes: James Aldridge, Antonio Dorsey (TB, McCluer), Devin Lenauer (S, Owensville), Erik Rudin, Alex Joannes (S, Blair Oaks), Gabriel Lickteig, Cameron McWright (LB, Central Visual and Performing Arts), Drew Yanker, Michael Oldroyd, Austin Huff, Levi Hamilton, Matt Davis (DB, Marquette), Tyron Reece, Ryan Sutherlin, Tony Buhr (DB, School of the Osage), Marlon Galbreath, Joshua Bishop (TE, Maplewood-Richmond Heights/Illinois College), Stephon Hayden, Brandon Shipman {DL, Bernie R-XII, SE Missouri State). There was a rumor former Rock Bridge kicker Tanner Mills was going to walk on, but he is not listed anywhere on the roster, even with the players expected to join when school starts.

*Play of the Day: This goes to two guys. I've made no secret about my concerns at the cornerback position. But today, those guys were strong. Hardy Ricks, who looks like he's bigger than last season, made a great leaping deflection of a deep pass intended for Franklin. It is important to remember that Ricks was a redshirt freshman who may have been forced into duty sooner than he was ready last season. There is certainly a chance he makes a big leap this year. On the very next play after Ricks' deflection, his backup, Paul Simpson, made an almost identical play on a throw from Patton.

*Quote of the Day: "I think Ziggy's got a chance to be one of the best in the nation," Gary Pinkel said when asked how important Hood and Williams were to the defense.

We will have a photo gallery and continuing coverage from the first practice later tonight. The Tigers have media day at 2:00 tomorrow, followed by fan day from 3:30 to 5:00. PowerMizzou.com will be on hand and will have a photo gallery following the event.

This is just an example of the coverage you will get each and every day from practice as a premium subscriber to PowerMizzou.com. If you are not yet a member, Click here to start your free PowerMizzou.com trial. In addition, we sent out three text alerts with pertinent news from practice as it was happening on day one. Click here to subscribe to our text alerts feature.


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