Offensive line steals headlines on day one of Missouri football fall camp

Fortunately for the O-line, Memphis graduate transfer and Rock Bridge High School alum Michael Stannard’s name appeared on the roster Thursday.

Losing Evan Boehm, Connor McGovern, Mitch Hall and Taylor Chappell left a tough enough void for the 2016–17 Missouri offensive line. On Thursday, though, that void deepened as coach Barry Odom announced that junior guard Nate Crawford would be retiring due to medical reasons.

Crawford is a 6-foot-5 Pensacola, Florida, product who played in 11 games last year and was going to be Mizzou’s most experienced offensive lineman. But, after two back procedures — one in 2014 and another in the spring — Crawford made a decision that Odom said was best for him.

Fortunately for the line, Memphis graduate transfer and Rock Bridge High School alum Michael Stannard’s name appeared on the roster on Thursday. In an inquiry, Memphis told The Maneater that Friday is the last day of summer classes and that Stannard is “on their list” of students expected to graduate Saturday. Odom said there’s no timetable for Stannard’s entering the program but that when he does, he’s expected to be a walk-on.

Apart from the offensive line news, one thing’s certain after the completion of one Missouri fall football practice: Odom, defensive coordinator DeMontie Cross and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel are immune to the heat.

Standing in the 95-degree heat on Thursday, each was wearing a long-sleeved shirt — Odom in yellow and both Heupel and Cross in white — as the Tigers took the field for the first day of fall camp.

Around 4 p.m., with DJ Esco’s “Check On Me” playing in the background, the players lined up. Claps rang around the practice facility behind the Missouri Athletic Training Complex and then periods of drills followed stretches by those dressed in white metallic helmets and white or black jerseys.

As Odom talked players such as graduate-transfer wide receiver Chris Black and graduate-transfer running back Alex Ross met with the media. Here are notes from their conversations and more:

Trip from the Tide

With ongoing conversations of Alabama cornerback Maurice Smith being denied a transfer to fellow Southeastern Conference team Georgia, many have mentioned Black, who transferred from Alabama back on Feb. 1.

On Smith, Black said: “I would love to see (Maurice Smith) go somewhere just like me. I felt like I needed a breath of fresh air and I think guys should be able to make that decision and move on if they feel they need to.”

Black’s situation is different, though, as Alabama said Black was expected to have surgery mid-season so he left the program. Then, through waivers that Odom said were handled by compliance, Black was cleared to transfer within the conference.

Thus far, Black said Mizzou “is very different.”

“You kind of have to get out of things you’ve done a certain way for four years,” Black said. “Coach Heupel and coach Andy Hill like things done a certain way.”

The dismissed duo

Coaches and players talked a lot about Wednesday’s dismissals of both Walter Brady and Harold Brantley, two former Missouri defensive linemen. On Brantley, who was dismissed for failing to meet academic requirements, Odom said it was always “a week-to-week process.”

Odom said it was difficult to dismiss two players of Brady and Brantley’s stature.

“It’s never fun when there’s change,” he said. “Luckily, the staff we have is okay giving me opinions, too, and everything we talk about, I have to make sure I take a step back and make the right decision.”

Others injured

Freshmen offensive lineman Tanner Owen and A.J. Harris were topics of discussion Thursday as both are dealing with medical problems.

Owen’s injury has not been released and Odom said there’s no timetable for his return, while Harris, who had wrist surgery a few weeks ago, worked in a limited fashion.

The Beckner report

In a game against Brigham Young last October, Missouri sophomore defensive lineman Terry Beckner Jr. tore his ACL and MCL. On Thursday, in watching him practice without any restrictions, Cross said he was “explosive.”

“He made a few plays out here guys that made me go, ‘whoa,’” Cross said. “He’s a high-talent, high-motor type of kid and we just have to make sure we pace him the right way.”

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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