COLUMBIA - Missouri cornerbacks coach Cornell Ford remembers what Castine Bridges was like when he began his Missouri career and had to deal with a blow to his confidence after Ford told him that he would not be starting at corner in his junior season.
"Initially, he was kind of patient," Ford said. "I think he wanted to play, but he wasn't ready."
Colorado (4-3, 1-2 Big 12)
at No. 16 Missouri (5-2, 1-2)
WHEN: 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Memorial Stadium
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After transferring from Diablo Valley Junior College, that wasn't what Bridges wanted to hear. But rather than get upset about not starting immediately, Bridges took it as a challenge.
"I think he was a little bothered by it, but he said, ‘If I'm not ready yet, I'm just going to work harder,'" Ford said. "He's really turned it on, and he's been a pleasant addition to our secondary."
That's Bridges on the field, an intense competitor who loves to hit people.
His junior college coach, Ralph Depew, said that's the way that Bridges has always been and it's his biggest strength as a player.
"He was a physical corner who got in receivers' faces," Depew said. "He was not like some defensive backs that don't want to touch you, he'd come up and really try to lay the hat to you."
But as tough and intense as Bridges is on opposing receivers, he's never the silent type around his teammates.
"Castine wasn't ever quiet," Depew said, laughing at the notion. "He was one of those players who played with a heaping amount of confidence. I don't know if he was ever silent, but he was certainly strong, certainly was extremely sure of himself and had the ability to back up what he said."
In fact, his current teammates and coaches claim that he loves to joke around whenever the situation warrants, but only when it's not a time to be serious.
"He's a jokester, he's got some of that in him," Ford said. "That's OK, it's OK to have fun every once in a while. On the field, he's all business, which is what we need him to be."
But given Bridges' past experience, it's impressive that he maintains his joking personality at all. Depew said that Bridges grew up in a less-than-ideal neighborhood, and credits Bridges with a great ability to overcome adversity.
"I do know he lost some of his friends to acts of violence when he was a senior in high school," Depew said. "I think he ended up going to a funeral while he was here also. He wasn't always in the greatest of neighborhoods where he grew up."
Depew said that Bridges is very close to his family, citing Bridges' relationships with his mother and brother. Missouri defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, who recruited Bridges from Diablo Valley, is clearly pleased with the impact that Bridges' family has had on the cornerback.
"Castine's got a great family back there in Richmond, California," Eberflus said. "He's a real nice kid and a kid that's real intense. He chose to come out here a long way from home, and we're certainly proud of that and happy for that."