This past fall, the Missouri football team had one of their most successful football seasons in recent memory, going to the Southeastern Conference championship game and Cotton Bowl along with a top five AP ranking to finish out the year.
But while fans everywhere rejoiced, for Chase Abbington the Tigers’ season was bittersweet.
“I was happy for the program, but of course I wish I was there,” Abbington said. “I’ll be there soon though so it’s OK. I used it as motivation, really, so that I could get there sooner.”
Arguably the Tigers’ top signee in 2013 along with defensive end Josh Augusta, Abbington spent the past fall at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, working to get academically qualified after his grades in high school weren’t enough to get him to Columbia this past summer.
For Abbington, not even a bad season for the Tigers would have been easier to take.
“Not being in the black and the gold really kills me, so it wouldn’t have made a difference,” the former Fort Zumwalt South High School star Abbington said.
Despite being in junior college, Abbington has found someone that could relate to his situation in current Tigers defensive end Markus Golden. Like Abbington, Golden was declared academically ineligible out of high school and spent a few seasons at Hutchinson before joining the program in 2012.
“I always tell him to call me if you need me,” Golden said of Abbington. “He’s called me a few times, and whatever he’s asked me, I’ve helped him with. He’s a real good kid and I just want to help him get over here.”
Golden credits his family for helping him through the junior college process and for pushing him at times when he needed it. Abbington has come to treat Golden like family and credits him for being there when he needs him.
“Markus is like my big brother,” Abbington said. “We talk daily and he kind of helps me through this process and talks about getting out of here. We talk every day, pretty much.”
One thing Abbington proved this past season is that he can still take care of business on the field. After originally planning to redshirt this past season and play this upcoming year, Abbington ended up doing the opposite when a number of injuries presented a demand for him to line up in the backfield. Abbington ended the season rushing for 832 yards and nine touchdowns, and says he won’t be playing football until he’s at Missouri.
“Coming out of my senior year, I was beat up still,” Abbington said. “I tore my labrum and my shoulder, had a few cracked ribs and this season I wasn’t 100 percent, but I played anyway even though I wasn’t fully healed. I’m done for the year now. I’m just going to workout, get bigger, stronger, faster until I get to Mizzou.”
Abbington plans on leaving Hutchinson this December so that he can join the Tigers for their spring practices in 2015 and get to campus sooner. While the Tigers currently have a crowded backfield with sophomore Russell Hansbrough, junior Marcus Murphy and incoming freshman Trevon Walters and Ish Witter, Abbington still plans to play running back once he’s on campus.
“The coaches always left it up to me as to what I want to do,” he said. “Whether I want to play inside the ball or not. But right now, running back … is where I’m at with it.”