Notebook: Position changes around board to begin spring practice
The addition of Kelly Bryant was only one part of the roster turnover for the Tigers this offseason.
Mar. 07, 2019
Richaud Floyd jogged out onto the Dan Devine practice field as he has for the last four years.
But this time, the wide receiver was on a new side of the ball as a defensive back. Floyd switched to cornerback on the first day of spring practice due to the lack of depth at the position, as well as the abundance of options at wide receiver for the Tigers.
Floyd played on both sides of the ball in high school as a cornerback and a dual-threat quarterback, but for now, he is only playing corner during the spring.
“He’s definitely got the speed and athleticism to do it,” defensive coordinator Ryan Walters said. “He fits the bill from a physique standpoint. He’s got a learning curve ahead of him because he hasn’t played the position in so long but he’s got a chance to help us.”
The learning curve showed for Floyd, who got beat three-straight times in one-on-one drills with receivers, but his athleticism was evident when he leaped to knock down a pass from backup quarterback Taylor Powell on a corner blitz in 11-on-11s.
As Floyd leaves the receiving corps, he’s replaced by former quarterback Micah Wilson. Wilson was Drew Lock’s backup two seasons ago but got lost in the shuffle with the additions of quarterbacks Kelly Bryant, Powell and Shawn Robinson over the last two years.
Wilson showed speed as a dual-threat quarterback and was listed third on the depth chart behind Kam Scott and Floyd, prior to him switching to the defensive side of the ball. That depth chart looks to change between now and the spring game with graduate transfer Johnathan Nance, who had a play in Bryant’s recruitment and committed to the Tigers on the same day, at the bottom of the depth chart. Missouri coach Barry Odom said that all new players, with the exception of Bryant, will have to climb their way up the depth chart during the offseason.
Nance seems to have climbed quickly and was running with the starters in 11-on-11 drills at the end of practice.
Albert Okwuegbunam returned to the field on Sunday’s opening practice for the first time since last season when he suffered a shoulder injury against Florida and was sidelined for the rest of the year. The redshirt junior was limited to running again on Tuesday and ran routes with the other tight ends but didn’t catch any balls.
With the NFL Draft looming, it seemed like that would be the last time fans saw Okwuegbunam in a Missouri uniform, but the tight end decided to stay for his redshirt junior season in Columbia.
There was also a lot of cornerbacks in red jerseys on Tuesday with Adam Sparks and Terry Petry both out of contact drills with injuries.
Jalani Williams leads pack of freshmen
High profile recruits Bryant and Nance unsurprisingly joined in the spring, but a lot of freshmen have also started their careers this week as well, most notably four-star safety Jalani Williams.
Williams will be one of the players to play the “boundary” position that is another high safety similar to the free safety position. It will be used in five-defensive back sets to help a Missouri defense that struggled at times against the pass last season. The boundary defender will allow strong safeties like Ronnell Perkins and Khalil Oliver to play closer to the line of scrimmage as more of a slot defender.
Williams will be joined by freshman defensive backs Chris Shearin, Ishmael Burdine, receiver C.J. Boone and defensive tackle Darius Robinson as the other early enrollees.
Edited by Emily Leiker | firstname.lastname@example.org