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KICKOFF: MU's Gettys takes his shot

Friday, September 19, 2008 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:53 p.m. CST, Thursday, January 15, 2009
Sophomore linebacker Jeff Gettys signals to his teammates where to stand during a practice play Sept. 16.

COLUMBIA - Jeff Gettys would do it again. He would sprint for the end zone without giving thought to the lopsided scoreboard, an opponent's bruised pride and other consequences of his interception. He would do his job.

He would trust his preparation. He would make the right read. Just as last Saturday against Nevada, he would score and leave the questions to coach Gary Pinkel.

Saturday's Game

Buffalo (2-1)

at No. 5 Missouri (3-0)

WHEN: 1 p.m.

WHERE: Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium

TV: None

RADIO: KFRU/1400 AM, KBXR/102.3 FM

JACKED: Follow the game online with Jacked, a second-screen Web platform found at ColumbiaMissourian.com. Track statistics as they happen, chat with a Missourian reporter covering the game, view photos, video and links to other media, all while the game is being played.

 



He would celebrate.

"I didn't hear it until after the game," the sophomore reserve linebacker said of debate about Missouri possibly running up the score in its 69-17 victory. "I was like, ‘Well, I guess I should have taken a knee.' If it happened again, it would be hard to do it."

Late in the fourth quarter, Gettys intercepted Nevada quarterback Nick Graziano and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. The turnover gave MU its decisive margin of victory and Gettys his moment in the spotlight.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Houston, Mo., native caught coaches' attention early. In 2006, he walked on and became part of the scout team. He worked hard. He didn't see playing time until he was placed on the special-teams coverage unit against Illinois last year.

He impressed the coaching staff and earned his position. During MU's Cotton Bowl run, he played in all 14 games on various units. In November, he was awarded the team's walk-on player of the year award. His visibility began to rise.

"I've always noticed him because he's real physical," defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said. "I like guys who knock people down. He has always been able to do that. That's why I've taken a liking to the kid."

Pinkel has too. After spring practice this year, Pinkel told Gettys he wanted to meet with him. Gettys didn't know what to expect. A player never wants to be called "into the big man's office," Gettys said. Scenarios raced through his head. What did he do wrong? Gettys searched for meaning.

Then, Pinkel changed his life. Pinkel said Gettys would be placed on scholarship. Gettys shared the news with his family and friends in rural south-central Missouri. Everyone was proud.

"It was a great moment," Gettys said. "My family was really excited. Everybody in Houston was really excited.

"Each person has their own individual goals. For me, it was just to get on the field and play. It was a nice feeling to know that they wanted me here, and that I was good enough for them to pay for me to be here."

Said linebacker Luke Lambert: "I told him it's about time. I think he was thinking the same thing. I know he deserved it, and I'm glad he got it."

He has it, and Gettys is trying to make the most of his opportunity. He's listed as the No. 2 strongside linebacker, behind Lambert. He's greeted with a warm welcome each time he returns to Houston's Main Street. He said he wants to stay healthy and fulfill his potential, fighting for more until he begins a new life.

"Not many people from southern Missouri come up to play at Mizzou, so it's kind of a big deal down there," Gettys said, smiling. "Everyone is really proud down there. It's really nice going home."

 


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