COLUMBIA — The score on the field at halftime wasn’t important. It was what the current Missouri football players didn’t have that mattered.
While the men in jerseys battled to a 71-28 victory for the Black offensive squad over the Gold players on defense, former Tigers Lorenzo Williams, Tony Temple and Martin Rucker, among other seniors, showed off their rings from the previous season. They received them in a halftime ceremony at the Tigers’ spring game.
“I designed this year’s ring and last year’s ring,” Williams said. “I had more to do with this year’s ring than last year’s.”
One thing every senior from last year’s team had an opinion about was the color of the rings. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel wanted his players to receive gold rings, but every senior wanted platinum instead.
“He wanted to change it to gold, and we were like, ‘Coach, they’re not gold anymore,’” Rucker said. “Everyone goes platinum or white gold, whichever you can afford.”
The ring reception and spring game was a chance for a light moment just a week before an intense time for the former Tigers — next week’s NFL Draft. Williams, Rucker and Temple each revealed different plans for how they want to handle the draft.
Temple was the most cautious of the three for what he plans to do next weekend.
“I’ll be by myself until I know I’m on a team, until I hear my name,” he said. “Then I’ll celebrate with everyone. I hear a lot of people have draft parties, and then things don’t work out that way. I don’t want to be that guy.”
Williams said that he plans to play golf on Saturday during the first two rounds of the draft and then watch the remainder of the draft on its second day. Rucker said that he will watch the draft at his home in St. Joseph with his family, including his brother Mike Rucker, who currently plays for the Carolina Panthers.
“There is a chance that it could happen,” Martin Rucker said of playing with his brother. “That’s the funny thing about the draft, you just never know where you’re going until you get that phone call.”
Rucker said that he was in contact with 10 teams, including Carolina, the Kansas City Chiefs and the St. Louis Rams. Temple has worked out with the Chiefs and said that the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens have talked with him. Williams declined to reveal interested teams other than the Rams.
Despite the 12-2 finish from a season ago, Rucker said that he felt Missouri’s lack of reputation is working against some of his former teammates, notably center Adam Spieker. Rucker was shocked when he learned that Spieker, a finalist for the Rimington Award last year, was a candidate to be this year’s “Mr. Irrelevant”, the title given to the player taken with the final selection of the draft.
“He was a finalist for the award and he gets no respect,” Rucker said. “It depends on what school you go to, and right now, Missouri’s not one of those schools that’s highly respected. That’s what we’re building. This was just the first step. It’s their job to carry it on here as well as it is ours at the next level.”
RECORD ATTENDANCE: The Missouri spring game’s announced attendance was 26,322, and it is thought to be a record crowd, according to athletic department spokesman Chad Moller. It was clear that the players appreciated the large crowd coming out despite threats of rain.
“It’s awesome, there should be even more next year,” quarterback Chase Daniel said. “26,000, and the weather wasn’t awesome. For them to come out and support us, that says a lot about the fan base.”
Williams said that he was happy to see a record crowd, but despite the increase from his final spring game, he was not jealous of the current players.
“They’ve got to play the whole half, and we played 10, 15 plays at the most, so I’m not jealous,”
ELECTRIC OPENING: The starters only played during the first half on both sides of the ball, and almost all of Missouri’s touchdowns and field goals came during those 24 minutes. Chase Daniel connected with Jeremy Maclin for 15 yards and Jared Perry for 11 yards for touchdowns, and Derrick Washington ran for a 6-yard score. Jeff Wolfert hit three field goals and two extra points, including two field goals from longer than 50 yards. In all, Daniel was 22-of-28 for 195 yards and one interception along with the touchdowns. Washington led the running backs with 35 yards on seven carries, and Jon Gissinger had six catches for 57 yards.
The only scoring in the second half were short field goals from Tanner Mills and Grant Ressel.