COLUMBIA — Former MU defensive lineman Ziggy Hood recently signed a five-year contract with the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers.
But though Hood is no longer around MU, current defensive lineman Terrell Resonno said what Hood did for the MU football atmosphere is something he'd like to continue.
"I'm proud of him, but it's my time to step up," Resonno said Friday morning, after MU held its second fall practice. Resonno, a sophomore, said he has especially spent time with freshman Marvin Foster as Hood once did for him.
"He kind of plays like Ziggy actually," he said of Foster. "I took Marvin out when he first got here, just to get a feel of Columbia. I'm just trying to take him under my wing."
Resonno is listed on the depth chart as a first-teamer with Jacquies Smith, Jaron Baston and Brian Coulter, but while the projected starters all have playing experience, the majority of players below them are either true freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Baston said setting new examples for young players to follow is critical to developing the Missouri football program.
"We look out for each other when we're messing up in class, or if we're doing good things in class," Baston said. "I think that's the main thing that contributed to the successes of Mizzou. We start focusing on those things off the field and bringing them to light more. I think that's helped us a lot. It's the same thing we're doing on the D-Line and the whole team."
After Friday's practice, Coach Gary Pinkel said he has seen good examples set by not only seniors but other players as well. He said it will be key in turning athletes into more complete football players.
"It's kind of interesting when you lose leadership," Pinkel said. "We've been working on leadership with our football team since January for this 2009 season. But it's kind of interesting to see it happen. I see some real young players standing up, leading. I think one reason for that is because the last couple years around here there's been visual aids all over the place on the right way to lead."
Baston said he too has seen how a student-athlete should carry himself.
"I was blessed to come to Mizzou and watch great players like Brian Smith, Lorenzo Williams, and Ziggy Hood who came in with me," he said. "More than anybody Lorenzo Williams (was an influence). Probably one of the best leaders Mizzou ever had. He looked out for me. He was my big brother, he was my captain. He showed me a lot of things."
Friday, defensive linemen spent time in a drill that simulated getting past multiple offensive players to get to the ball carrier and try to force a turnover. Baston went first, and kept his frame low as he sprinted past dummies and slapped at the space where the ball might be.
"Good," barked an assistant coach. He turned to the others. "Exactly like that."
Baston said members of the defensive line spend time together outside of football, but said most of the leadership comes from football activities.
"We don't have too many special rituals," he said. "My main thing is just a mental thing. They can watch me on the field as far as physical (aspects of the game). But mentally, I just want them to go into every situation confident going into it, 'I'm going to dominate, I'm going to make that play,' and they might not make that play. But if you think it, more times (than not) you're going to make that play. I just want to try to install that confidence in them more than anything."