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Missouri fans take advantage of chance to meet current Tigers

Monday, August 10, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 8:06 a.m. CDT, Monday, August 10, 2009
Freshman player Nikko Sansone examines the Jayhawk logo on the bowl of a Tiger-themed toilet before adding his signature to the seat of the commode at football fan day on Faurot Field in Columbia on Sunday. The toilet will be auctioned off to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

COLUMBIA — Elizabeth April needed an item for players and coaches to sign at Missouri's fan day Sunday afternoon.

On her way to Faurot Field, April, a sophomore at Fort Zumwalt North High School, picked up a mock parking sign at the store that read "Tiger Fans Parking Only" —  fitting for someone less than a year away from getting her license.

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April was one of hundreds of fans with countless posters and football who stood in lines and walked around Faurot Field to meet the Tigers.

April, 15, soon had collected dozen of signatures. She said she liked getting a chance to meet players and ask how they were doing.

"I kind of get star struck around them," she said.

April counted sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert and freshman receiver T.J. Moe as her favorite players. Like April, Moe is from O'Fallon.

April said she has made the trek to Columbia for numerous Missouri sporting events.

"I've been coming here for five or six years," she said.

Carmen Sansone didn't have to worry about holding on to her autograph item.

Carmen, 9, has worn an orange cast around her lower leg after she recently had a soccer injury. After Carmen had her friends and family sign it, she figured she might as well get Missouri players to sign it, too.

"Three football players have signed it so far," she said.

Carmen's older brother, Nikko, stood nearby in his Mizzou uniform with other players greeting fans. Carmen showed how she had the football players sign in silver marker so their names would stand out.

Carmen said she didn't know many on the team yet, but hoped to get more players to sign her cast, at least for a little while.

"It's hot out here," she said.

Aaron Mittelbuscher brought a replica Missouri helmet and collected more signatures to go with some from last year.

"This one's going in a glass case (after today)," he said.

Mittelbuscher, who came from Illinois with his wife, Angie and two-year-old son, Mason, said he enjoyed taking his family around Columbia before the event.

"She had her first Shakespeare's pizza," he said.

He said he played tight end in high school, but an injury kept him from playing further. Last year, autograph time ran out just before he could get Chase Coffman's signature.

"I was the first guy not to get it, " he said. Mittelbuscher, a Missouri graduate, said he made sure to meet current tight end Andrew Jones this year.

Mittelbuscher acknowledged what the program lost from last season but said he thinks he sees many positives.

"I'm optimistic," he said. "We did lose a lot of seniors. I hated to see (former offensive coordinator Dave) Christensen go. I think our recruiting class is going to speak for itself.

He talked about the growth the program has shown in recent years.

"I'm starting to see a lot more Missouri fans in my neck of the woods," he said.

He mentioned that on his street alone he knows a Kansas fan and a Nebraska fan as well.

"It gets nasty during football season," he said, with a smile.

April said she hopes Missouri can get back to the Big 12 Championship game and maybe soon earn an BCS Bowl berth.

"I'm going to stick with them no matter what they do," she said. "I'm Mizzou forever."


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