COLUMBIA - Redshirt freshman defensive end Michael Keck quit the Missouri football team Wednesday, team officials confirmed.
Keck was rated as the top prospect in Missouri by Rivals.com and the No. 11 weakside linebacker recruit overall before he enrolled at MU in January 2007 after graduating from Harrisonville High School early.
He was an All-State, All-District and All-Conference selection in each of his final three high school seasons. In his only action at MU, he had one tackle in the Tigers' 52-42 season opening victory over Illinois on Saturday.
This fall, Keck took reps with the No. 2 defense, but toward fall camp's end, he began sharing second-team snaps with true freshman Jacquies Smith.
The Missourian contacted Fred Bouchard, Keck's coach at Harrisonville, but he was hesitant to offer concrete information.
"I exchanged a few text messages with him recently, but I don't feel I'm at liberty to discuss the content or subject matter of those," said Bouchard, now the coach at Staley High School in north Kansas City.
The news came as a surprise to former high school teammates.
"I didn't know it was coming, but I know Michael has a pretty good head on his shoulders," said Chris Ramirez, who is now a sophomore cornerback at William Jewell College in Liberty. "If he doesn't feel something is right, he's going to make a good decision. He doesn't make spur-of-the-moment decisions. I'm sure it was well thought out."
Said Andrew Clarke, a sophomore offensive tackle at William Jewell, "I hadn't heard of that yet. It's really none of my business if he left the team or not. If he feels like telling me something, he probably will. If not, it's his own personal business.
"I'll just tell you when I talked to him, he enjoyed it. We had our talks, but nothing that I feel like sharing."
Calls to Keck and mentor figure Bill Collins, a Cass County judge, went unreturned.
"Of course, we were all proud of him," Ramirez said of Keck playing at MU. "He took it real well. He knew it was all business. We were all proud of him."