Missouri football jumps into first padded practice

Friday, August 8, 2014 | 8:23 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — You've probably done it at a dance club, a wedding or maybe your high school prom.

But rarely do you find 10 quarterbacks, kickers and punters moving their hips and gyrating in unison to Sugarhill Gang's 1980s hit "Apache," better known by its repetitious chorus "Jump On It."

Notes from camp

Safeties Braylon Webb and Cortland Browning were both wearing red injury jerseys Friday. 

Scouts from the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks were on hand at camp. Both teams took former Missouri players in this year's NFL draft. 

That's just how Missouri quarterbacks coach Andy Hill opted to open practice Friday morning. It was time for Hill's group, which included the kickers and punters, to let their inner high school senior out in front of the entire team. 

"I think the quarterbacks brought all they had," offensive lineman Mitch Morse said when asked to critique the dance. "It was good, but when the offensive line goes, it's going to be monumental. It's going to change people."

Morse said the position groupings have been taking turns dancing in front of the team during camp. Morse wasn't sure when the offensive line would get their chance to show off in the friendly rivalry — that's up to the coaches — but said he was confident they could outshine the quarterbacks, kickers and punters.

For defensive tackle Lucas Vincent, witnessing Hill's moves and gaining insight on the quarterback coach's musical tastes was well worth what he described as less-than-coordinated moves.

"I can forgive them with how funny Coach Hill was," Vincent said. "That's the only saving grace they had there." 

Vincent said Hill showed a lot of enthusiasm with his dancing, as opposed to Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, though Vincent admitted Pinkel has his moments. 

The Tigers still rib Pinkel for his locker room dance after the team's 41-31 Cotton Bowl victory last January. The defensive line mocked it Thursday before practice.

He may not have loved the mocking, but Pinkel was happy the team finally had its first practice in full pads Friday.  

"The physical side of the competition changes a lot, rather just than pushing each other around," Pinkel said of practicing in pads. 

Sugarhill Gang aside, Friday's practice didn't start all too physically. A run and light stretching followed Maty Mauk and Andy Hill's gang.  

"It feels so good!" quarterback Eddie Printz joyously shouted as the team ran toward the south end zone.

The mood eventually turned serious. Drills between offensive and defensive lines were competitive. Receivers and running backs got their share of thudding — Pinkel's term for non-tackling contact between opposing players — with tailback Morgan Steward tweaking his hip during a drill. 

Missouri closed the practice with more than a dozen wind sprints, players panting as they trudged back to the sideline. Still, players such as receiver Bud Sasser were happy to do the conditioning that followed. To them, it meant real football was that much closer. 

"It's a good way to practice because, you know, no one's out there tagging you in the real games," Sasser said. 

Until the real games begin, other personnel groups will have to step up and perform their dances in front of the team. When it's time for the offensive line to go, expect a performance as enthusiastic as a tuxedo-clad teenager.   

"It'll be a riot," Morse said.  

Supervising editor is Mark Selig.

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