Graduate-transfer from Memphis adds depth to offensive line

Michael Stannard: “The program is very similar (to Memphis). It just feels a lot like the family I had at Memphis.”
Missouri Tigers freshman offensive lineman Jonah Dubinski (67) blocks pass rusher Aug. 6, 2016, at the Kedlac Practice Field in Columbia, Mo.

For days, if not weeks, one piece of paper — a transcript — forbade Michael Stannard from practicing with the Missouri football team.

Friday, though, the 6-foot-2, 290-pound offensive lineman graduate-transfer from the University of Memphis took the Kedlac Practice Fields for the second-straight day with a position group that absolutely needed him as he is now the most experienced offensive lineman on the roster.

“He’s been a blessing to the room because he’s our only senior and he’s seen so many different things,” redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Kevin Pendleton said. “He’s played in a very tough league, he’s played against some good guys at a good school and I can’t wait to see him push some guys and compete with us.”

For Stannard, coming to Missouri meant coming home, which he said “is amazing.” In 2011, Stannard graduated from Rock Bridge High School after playing for former coach A.J. Ofodile — who’s now Missouri’s recruiting coordinator — and his only offer coming out of high school was from Memphis. Who was their primary recruiter? Former Memphis defensive coordinator and current Missouri coach Barry Odom.

As a freshman, Stannard played 11 games, but he saw action primarily on special teams which led to his redshirting as a sophomore over the course of the 2013 season. Then, in 2014, Stannard started six games at right guard and accounted for a total of 315 plays. Unfortunately, in the Miami Beach Bowl against BYU, Stannard was involved in a brawl that would have him suspended in 2015’s season opener.

Stannard pointed to that and the line becoming more competitive as two things that made it more difficult to play as a redshirt junior. Then, after former Memphis coach Justin Fuente left for Virginia Tech at the end of last year, Stannard decided he needed “a change in scenery.”

Knowing Ofodile, Odom and even the entire strength and conditioning staff, Stannard said that “there were just so many connections here that I (knew) I could take advantage of.”

After adjusting his major from exercise sciences to disciplinary studies so that he could graduate, his competing at Missouri depended on a transcript that he said took a little longer than expected. Stannard said it was frustrating, but after wearing pads for the first time at Mizzou on Friday, he said the mindset with the black and gold Tigers feels a little similar to the black and blue Tigers.

“As you know, a lot of people have picked us to be at the bottom of the SEC East, and everyone here has a very big chip on their shoulder because of that,” Stannard said. “The program is very similar (to Memphis). It just feels a lot like the family I had at Memphis.”

For those that question Stannard’s size, Pendleton spoke about toughness.

“He’s a tough dude,” Pendleton said. “Coach had to pull him out of one-on-one pass rush because he didn’t have pads on. There’s guys that are 6-foot-2, 6-foot-1 that are ballers because they use great techniques and are tough dudes and he fits that category.”

Like Pendleton, redshirt junior offensive lineman Alec Abeln is excited to have Stannard on the team. Where as with some guys there may be trouble adjusting this late in camp, Abeln said Stannard’s personality makes it easy.

“He comes from Memphis, which we like to pretend was like prison because of the way he runs around and moves and everything,” Abeln said jokingly. “But he’s done a great job and is a great guy to have around in the meeting room and he’s been awesome.”

Three Practice Notes

1. PB&B?

Ever heard of peanut butter and butter? Yeah, doubtful. But if so, maybe you’ll be able to understand the relationship junior wide receiver J’Mon Moore has with sophomore quarterback Drew Lock.

On Friday, Moore said: “Me and Drew are like peanut butter and butter. We’re like, shoot, ranch dressing on salad. Every day we’re getting better and better and we’ve got a good connection on and off the field.”

Prior to hearing the comments, Lock also spoke of Moore and how he’s been impressed by the work the 6-foot-3 wide receiver has been putting in.

“J’Mon was very good last year, but more and more reps with him, we’ve gotten a lot better,” Lock said.

2. Chris Black again wears red

Oftentimes as a wide receiver at Alabama, Chris Black was unable to stay on the field.

Now, through 10 practices at Missouri, questions remain as to whether the graduate transfer can do so wearing the black and gold. After going through walkthroughs Friday morning, Black again put on the red jersey and did some speed and agility work by himself, nursing a hamstring injury.

On his receiver, wide receivers coach Andy Hill said: “The old adage was, ‘You can’t make the club if you’re in the tub.’ Eventually, you’ve got to be out there and proving to your teammates and yourself that you can play, whether it’s Chris or anybody else.”

3. Competition at running back

With the addition of graduate-transfer Alex Ross at the running back spot, as well as sophomore Nate Strong and freshman Damarea Crockett, the competition has heightened for returning starter Ish Witter.

Witter, who stands at 5-foot-8, said he is used to going up against a number of bigger guys and, leading into Saturday’s scrimmage, he’s looking to prove what he’s gained since last year.

“We’re all ready to play and we’re all good backs,” Witter said. “There’s not really no separation and we’re all ready to play.”

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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