The grace period is gone for the Missouri football team’s incoming freshmen.
Players check in today, and starting Wednesday, the Tigers practice or scrimmage for 16 straight days.
In past years, freshman players and other newcomers started practicing several days earlier than the rest of the team, but a change in NCAA rules this season requires all players to report and practice on the same day, according to Chad Moller, MU’s sports information director.
Another rule change limits the amount of two-a-day practices before the Tigers’ first game Aug. 30 against Illinois. MU will practice twice a day on five different days.
Nineteen freshmen are expected to report today. Coach Gary Pinkel said several might have the chance to play, instead of redshirting a season.
“I don’t want to say who they are right now, but there’s a possibility of maybe three or four players that I’m looking at that might have an opportunity to do that,” Pinkel said.
Two of the Tigers’ top recruits, Marcus Woods and Zane Tomlin, could possibly compete for a spot. Rivals.com, a recruiting Web site, rated Woods, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound running back from Farmington Hills, Mich., as the No. 8 all-purpose back in the nation.
Rivals.com rated Tomlin, a 6-3, 280-pound defensive tackle from San Antonio, as the No. 15 defensive tackle prospect in the nation.
Junior college transfer Damien Nash, a 5-11, 213-pound tailback from St. Louis, will practice in preseason full-contact drills after not taking any contact in spring drills. Nash tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee this past fall playing for Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. He redshirted his first year at Coffeyville.
“He hasn’t played football for two years,” Pinkel said. “Two-a-days are going to be critical for him because he hasn’t taken a hit, he hasn’t gotten pounded. There’s some personal hurdles that he’s going to have to overcome. I certainly feel that he’s had a good summer ... What we have to do is allow him the time.”
Nino Williams and Victor Sesay also played at junior colleges in 2002. Williams, a free safety, attended MU during the winter semester and at the end of spring practices, he topped the depth chart. Sesay, a 6-6, 255-pound tight end, played at Ventura (Ca.) College before coming to MU.