COLUMBIA — Kip Edwards is the team barber for the Missouri football team.
He gives a haircut to any teammate that needs one. The senior cornerback from Arlington, Texas, cuts hair using the latest trends as well as some of his own designs.
His own hair is cut short everywhere except in the front, where it grows long and makes a ramp over his forehead. He calls it the "Johnny Bravo," after one of his favorite childhood cartoon shows.
The haircut Edwards gave redshirt sophomore running back Marcus Murphy is basically the complete opposite. It's cut short everywhere except in the back, where a "ducktail" grows about an inch long and sticks out from the back of Murphy's neck.
"If you ask anybody in the program, they'll tell you that Kip is a funnyman," Murphy said. "He's just a crazy individual."
Edwards might joke around, but he is well-respected by his teammates. He might be viewed as the class clown, but Edwards gets serious on the football field.
Edwards and Murphy are close friends. They first met when Edwards served as the host for Murphy, who is from Desoto, Texas, on his recruiting visit to Missouri. That's when they discovered their parents went to high school together in Texas. Now their families know each other well.
Murphy said he respects Edward's ability to come back strong after the cornerback missed a large portion of training camp with a knee injury. He could not participate fully in practice for more than three weeks.
Edwards was frustrated at times when undergoing rehabilitation. His teammates tried to keep him in good spirits by joking around with him.
After one scrimmage, junior cornerback E.J. Gaines ribbed Edwards by acknowledging the defense's strong performance without him. Then Gaines got serious and said "We need Kip."
He was right.
Missouri is just 2-2, and would likely be off to a worse start without Edward's production.
Since returning to the field, Edwards has had the ball in his hands an unusually high amount for a defensive back. He has a team-leading three fumble recoveries in the first four games.
"You can call it luck," Gaines said. "You can call it what you want, but great players are always around the football."
Against Arizona State, Edwards forced a fumble, intercepted a pass, and even caught a desperation pass from punter Trey Barrow after a botched punt attempt. After the game, Edwards said he got the ball so much he felt like a receiver, the position he played for two years in high school.
"He brags about having good hands, and he does have good hands," Murphy said. "We're gonna leave him at corner for now."
After playing quarterback in peewee football and in junior high, Edwards switched to receiver.
"I wanted to get the ball instead of hand it off and throw it," Edwards laughed.
After he switched to corner his junior year of high school, Edwards admits he still didn't have to tackle much until coming to Missouri. Learning to tackle was a big adjustment for him as he transitioned to defense.
But Edwards hasn't had to adjust to not having the ball in his hands. He has taken advantage of opportunities and snatched up every loose ball near him.
"I would say it's just hustling, just running to the football," Edwards said. "That's really all it is."
Edwards is hard on himself, though. Last Saturday, his hunger for the ball ended up hurting him.
Early in the second quarter of Missouri's game against South Carolina, Tigers punter Trey Barrow kicked from his own end zone. The game was still scoreless.
When South Carolina returner Ace Sanders caught the punt, the Missouri punt coverage could hardly get a hand on the small shifty player.
The only player who had a real shot to tackle Sanders was Edwards.
Edwards wrapped his arms fully around Sanders, but instead of going for the sure tackle, he tried to rip the ball loose. Edwards' right-arm rip came up empty, and he fell off the back of Sanders, who then ran free all the way to the Missouri 4-yard line.
South Carolina went on to quickly score the first touchdown in a 31-10 victory over Missouri.
Edwards took the blame for the Tigers' loss. He said that play gave all the momentum to South Carolina.
"I made a mistake," Edwards said. "I have to live with it. And I take full responsibility for it."
Coaches told Edwards to make a sure tackle before trying to create a turnover. He knows what he did wrong and hopes to correct it.
"He's a leader this year. He just does everything trying to better himself and the team," Murphy said. "He went on himself hard that he missed the tackle. He was just trying to get the ball out. I think he'll bounce back and work on those things to improve."