Notebook: McCann’s on double duty

The senior kicker is also currently rostered as Missouri’s punter.
Senior kicker Tucker McCann during fall camp on Aug. 5. Missouri plays its first game of the season Aug. 31 at Wyoming. Madeline Carter

In the final minute and a half of last season’s 35-37 loss to South Carolina, Tucker McCann kicked a 57-yard field goal, the second-longest in Missouri history and the longest made in the NCAA all season.

This season, he’s taking on an added challenge: punting.

“I’ve always been more of a kicker I guess, but I like both,” McCann said. “I’ve always loved both. I did both in high school.”

The need for McCann pulling double duty comes in the wake of former punter Corey Fatony’s graduation. Fatony punted for 11,163 yards in his career, the most in school history.

Meanwhile, McCann kicked 23 field goals last season, the second-most in a single season for Missouri, and scored 123 points, the second-best in the SEC and eighth-best in the nation. He also received the Lou Groza Award Star of the Week twice.

“I am happy with [Tucker],” coach Barry Odom said after Sunday’s camp. “He’s done a heck of a job. He’s producing and he’s a tough competitor. I like what he brings to our team.”

While four other kickers are currently rostered, no one is listed past McCann on the depth chart at placekicker or punter. That could change though, as Odom mentioned some of the younger players stepping up to the plate.

“I don’t want to put too much on [Tucker’s] plate,” Odom said. “[Aaron] Rodriguez has come out and had his best day today, so that was exciting to see.”

McCann said he enjoys the pressure of taking on both roles, but also isn’t afraid of a little competition with his teammates.

“I love competing with the guys,” McCann said. “They definitely push me to get better. It’s gonna be a good competition and I’m looking forward to it.”

New depth at tight end as Okwuegbunam returns

After deciding to stay with Missouri rather than go to the NFL early in 2019, Albert Okwuegbunam decided he had one goal for this season: be the best tight end in the nation.

“Anything less than that would be a disappointment to me,” the redshirt junior said.

While Okwuegbunam was named to the All-SEC first-team and has been named to two award watch lists so far, he admitted the title was more an opinion he hoped to hold of himself than anything else.

“As far as I’m satisfied with my game and I’m truly confident that that’s the end result, then yeah that’s all that matters,” Okwuegbunam said.

A broken scapula benched the tight end for a significant portion of last season. Even so, he had 43 receptions for 466 yards and six touchdowns across nine games.

This season Okwuegbunam should be as much of a target for quarterback Kelly Bryant as he was for Drew Lock.

“[Kelly and I] got a little bit of a feel for each other in the spring [and] in the summer, but to be out here competing against the defense has been really good for us,” Okwuegbunam said. “Building that chemistry and making sure we’re on the same page. It’s been really fun.”

Odom said Saturday after practice that there’s still competition at the tight end position. Seven players, including Okwuegbunam and second-string sophomore Daniel Parker Jr., are rostered at the position.

“They’re battling in their to get reps, get times,” Odom said.

Parker, who transitioned from defensive lineman to tight end last season when Okwuegbunam and Kendall Blanton were hurt, said this year’s depth at the position will surprise some people.

“We got a lot of weapons that no one knows about,” Parker said. “I feel like everyone can contribute.”

Injury Update

Bryant and Okwuegbunam both left the field late in Monday’s practice and did not return.

Odom said after practice that Bryant had a hamstring strain and Okwuegbunam had a knee sprain. Other than that, he didn’t have any more information.

“Injuries are gonna happen, but fortunately looks like they’re gonna be back and be ready to go,” Odom said. “But you never know. Next guy up gotta be ready for your number to be called and prepare just like you’re the starter.”

Edited by Maureen Dunne | mdunne@themaneater.com

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