Tigers have mixed feelings on Texas trip

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 | 8:36 p.m. CDT; updated 11:12 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 15, 2008

COLUMBIA — Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel has heard all the talk about how big a deal it is to play Texas, given how the Longhorns turned down the Southlake, Texas native before trying to offer a scholarship after he committed to Missouri. He's heard all about the connections between himself and Colt McCoy, a good friend who ended up as the Texas quarterback.

But the Texas connection is not a big deal to Daniel anymore.

"That happened so long ago," Daniel said. "It was four or five years ago that that happened. I've had such a great experience here, and I have such a great experience left. I'm excited about it, but I don't think about it too much anymore. It's how it's supposed to be."

Sean Weatherspoon, from Jasper, Texas, is not as forgiving as Daniel. It was three years ago that the linebacker was rejected by the Longhorns, and he hasn't forgotten.

"It's like the king-size bag of Doritos, that's how big it is," Weatherspoon said of the chip on his shoulder concerning Texas. "I'm focused, I've got to lead this football team. I'm excited to go back to Texas."

The Tigers will have 27 other players making the trip to play at the school that rejected them coming out of high school, or in some cases, didn't even bother to reject.

"They didn't even say that to me," defensive end Stryker Sulak said. "They didn't give me a look, so I really don't have anything against them."

That's the kind of player that Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has built his program on. He's stressed many times how Texas is an important secondary base in recruiting, and will now try to beat the Longhorns with the players Texas had no room for.

"We try to recruit the best players and we've recruited a lot of good players," Pinkel said. "There's a lot down there."

For something that so many Missouri players have in common, the trip to Texas has resulted in different reactions. Much of it centers on whether the Longhorns looked a player at all and whether they were Texas fans or not.

"When I was growing up, I watched the Red River Shootouts and everything," Weatherspoon said. "That's pretty much all I knew about college football was Texas, because that was the team in my state that was the most dominant team. I definitely was a Texas fan."

Ziggy Hood, on the other hand, views it as just another game. He came from Amarillo, Texas, much closer to Texas Tech in Lubbock than Texas in Austin, and was never a Longhorns fan.

"I really didn't pay too much attention to it when I was little," Hood said. "I'm just ready to play. Any team that steps up, I'm ready to play."

Sulak, from Rockdale, Texas, isn't taking any extra motivation from facing Texas or returning to his home state either. But if any of his fellow Texans want to, that's fine with him.

"Whatever motivates somebody, that'll do it," he said. "If the people on the roster that are from Texas and didn't get recruited by them, if that motivates them, I'm all for it. The only thing that motivates me is that I want to go down there and win."

Although Daniel clearly felt the same way, it was just as obvious that playing in Texas still meant something for him. In the past, he's played road games at Texas Tech and Texas A&M, plus bowl games in El Paso and Dallas, which makes the trip to Austin Daniel's fifth appearance in the Lone Star State.

"It's awesome, I love having all my family and friends there," Daniel said. "This time, there will be 20-30 guys down there. I always like playing in Texas, it's where I was born, it's where I was bred. Not just me, but any of the guys who goes back and plays in Texas, it's a special feeling and you want to put on a good show."

Daniel added that some of his friends who attend Texas will switch allegiances for one week in support of him and the Tigers.

Other Texans on the roster said they will have family and friends come down to this game, with some being unable to provide tickets for all who want to see their one chance to shine at their home state's flagship school.

"It's just exciting," Weatherspoon said. "Those guys, they didn't pick me. I got an opportunity to go elsewhere and I'm happy where I'm at, I wouldn't change anything for the world. It's obviously a great opportunity for all the Texas guys to go down there and show people what they missed out on."


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jean jean October 16, 2008 | 1:52 p.m.

Oh get it over you whimps! If Texas didn't pick you then they didn't! They could only get 20 to 25 players from the state out of 300+ Of course it's a tough competition to be part of the football team that you grew up watching, but that's the reality of it. If Sean Witherspoon was the best linebacker from his school then that's great. But there were other guys who exceeded the criteria or had greater talents and capabilities. You can't have all 300+ players all go to TEXAS because they want to go there. You can't always be the best player from high school through college because there will always be competition! LIVE WITH IT!

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Nunya Buzzinesssssss October 18, 2008 | 8:08 p.m.

I heard Daniel's say that Texas was the cheapest team he has ever played against since last week and, oh yeah, Nebraska!! He needs to drop a few pounds and man up!

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