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Kemp prefers direct route

Thursday, August 21, 2008 | 12:33 a.m. CDT; updated 5:28 p.m. CDT, Sunday, April 12, 2009
Wes Kemp, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound freshman from St. Louis, was highly recruited as one of the top 50 receivers in the nation.

COLUMBIA — After Monday’s practice, Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel named eight freshman who would not redshirt for the 2008 season, the most for the Tigers since Pinkel’s arrival in 2001. Wes Kemp, however, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound freshman wide receiver out of DeSmet in St. Louis, wasn’t among them.
Heading into Thursday’s final scrimmage before Missouri’s Aug. 30 date with Illinois, Kemp is out to change that.
“It’s out of my hands right now, making those decisions,” he said. “All I can do right now is just keep working hard and catch every ball, so whenever Aug. 30 rolls around, I’ll be able to do whatever the coaches ask me to do.”
Kemp signed with Missouri as one of the top overall prospects in the state, and one of the top 50 receivers in the nation, according to the recruiting Web site Rivals.com.
When Kemp saw that fellow freshman receivers Jerrell Jackson and Gahn McGaffie were slated to play in 2008, Kemp knew he needed to improve to catch the eyes of the coaching staff. With spots open in a receiving corps depleted by injuries, Kemp said he sees it as the perfect opportunity.
“Hopefully we can make some impressions there,” Kemp said of all the freshman receivers in Thursday’s scrimmage. “We’re all going to study hard tonight, know our assignments, and whatever happens, just catch the ball, that’s obviously the most important thing.”
Senior captain and receiver Tommy Saunders, who also redshirted his freshman season as a walk-on, said he has been impressed with what Kemp has done in camp thus far.
“He’s the biggest receiver we’ve got, and he does a great job of being physical and using his body well,” Saunders said. “We just want guys to get better every day here, and that’s what he’s doing.”
Kemp has endured his fair share of hits in his first fall camp, but he says there’s at least one defensive back who puts the fear into all the new receivers.
“(All-American safety) Willy Moore is the toughest guy in this secondary,” Kemp said. “He’s basically a linebacker who can run a 4.3, weighs 20 pounds more than you, and you know he’s faster than you. When there’s a guy like him on the field, and we know we’ll see guys like him this year, it just makes me focus on running crisper routes, thinking, and reacting to the ball.”
When upperclassmen like Moore catch up to freshmen like Kemp, the receivers say the way to deal with big hits is simple.
“You just got to get up and move on,” Kemp said. “Even if it did, you just got to act like it didn’t hurt you, and you didn’t feel it. You just got to get your mind focused on the next play. What just happened doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is what’s going to happen now and in the future.”
COFFMAN RETURNS: It looks like senior tight end Chase Coffman is operating ahead of Pinkel’s schedule. Eight days after having surgery to insert three screws into his broken right pinkie finger, Coffman was back to catching passes Wednesday morning. Wearing a red jersey pullover, Coffman snagged bullets over the middle and grabbe jump balls over defensive backs throughout practice. Tuesday, Pinkel had said Coffman would be out two weeks, but later, Coffman said he planned on being ready in just one.
The defense was instructed not to touch Coffman, but William Moore aired his grievances to no one in particular during one drill Wednesday.
“If he can catch, he can get hit,” Moore said.
DANARIO AHEAD OF SCHEDULE?: Danario Alexander, a junior receiver who has been rehabbing a torn ACL after a second surgery in June, might return earlier than expected, Pinkel said. Originally slated to return for Missouri’s Big 12 Conference opener Oct. 4 at Nebraska, Pinkel said Alexander might be ready to play closer to the end of September. The Tigers have a bye week on Sept. 27, but take on Buffalo on Sept. 20 at Memorial Stadium.
ONLY EIGHT MONTHS UNTIL THE NFL DRAFT, RIGHT?: After several scouts made appearances at practice Tuesday, another four were on hand Wednesday to scout and meet with strength and conditioning coach Pat Ivey.
 Scouts from the Washington Redskins, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, and Indianapolis Colts were spotted roaming Faurot Field, and the scout from the Colts got a couple nice, long looks at possible first round pick Moore.
COULTER STILL HOBBLING: JUCO transfer defensive end Brian Coulter was out of his boot Wednesday, but still looked uncomfortable on a heavily wrapped right ankle. Coulter pulled up in the middle of at least one drill Wednesday, wincing in pain.


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