COLUMBIA — After more than half a year of waiting, Duron Singleton finally strapped on shoulder pads and slid a black No. 2 Missouri practice jersey over his head on Monday morning.
The junior college recruit will likely make a big impact in the Tigers’ defensive backfield this season, but it was a bumpy ride to get here. Singleton signed with Missouri on Feb. 5, but when camp began on Aug. 1, he was nowhere to be found.
Coach Gary Pinkel seemed irritated by the absence and said it was for “personal reasons,” but safeties coach Alex Grinch acknowledged Singleton had some academic issues to work out before arriving.
“He handled his business, and we’re glad to have him,” Grinch said.
While Singleton can’t wear full pads until later in the week to comply with training rules, he wore a helmet, shoulder pads and shorts on Monday. He could not participate in all of the drills, but coaches saw a young man driven to prove himself.
“He’s champing at the bit,” Grinch said. “There’s a lot of guys on the field that are excited to play football. But if you ranked them one to 105, he’d be number one. He’s jacked up.”
A junior transfer from Fresno Community College, Singleton is expected to get a lot of playing time this season and might even crack the starting lineup by the first game on Aug. 31.
“That’s the reason we brought him in,” Grinch said. “He has a great opportunity to play at Mizzou.”
Pushing for time
Pinkel has stressed competition throughout camp, and freshman quarterback Eddie Printz has embraced that.
Printz was not upgraded on the depth chart, but Pinkel said he was impressed with his performance in Saturday's scrimmage, when he completed 15 of his 16 pass attempts for 97 yards. The freshman will now be getting reps with the No. 3 offense.
"He's got a really good arm," Pinkel said. “I think everybody can see that. He’s got a compact release, a really quick release. He’s slowly doing a lot of good things. We’ll see where that goes. That’s encouraging.”
Replacing Zaviar Gooden
With Zaviar Gooden at Tennessee Titans training camp, Missouri has an opening at weakside linebacker. Both Darvin Ruise and Kentrell Brothers have spent time at the top of the depth chart.
After Saturday's scrimmage, Brothers overtook Ruise for the top spot on the depth chart. But Ruise knows they both have a chance to make an impact.
"Coach Stec has said more than once that we both will see the field," Ruise said. "It's just a matter of who will start and who will not start. He said we both will get enough snaps."
Safety Matt White, cornerback John Gibson and tight end Jason Reese were all in red pullovers at practice Monday, which indicates they were limited in team drills. Wide receiver Wesley Leftwich, who was in a red jersey, continues to be held back by a hamstring injury he suffered early in camp.