Monte Wyrick is a Tiger and a Razorback, but there’s no question where his loyalty lies.
Wyrick, a freshman offensive tackle for Missouri, has the inside information on Missouri’s Independence Bowl matchup against Arkansas at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 in Shreveport, La.
Wyrick is from Texarkana, Ark., so he knows a lot about the Arkansas Razorbacks, the ones from Fayetteville, Ark.
“I know a lot of things about Arkansas,” Wyrick said. “I grew up watching them. Plus, my high school was called Arkansas High Razorbacks.”
That Wyrick is from Arkansas has mostly escaped his teammates and coaches, including Dave Christensen, the Tigers’ offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Despite going to Texarkana to recruit Wyrick, Christensen said it hadn’t crossed his mind that Wyrick was so closely associated with the Tigers’ bowl opponent.
“I didn’t even think about that,” Christensen said. “He’s so close to the Texas border that one of the high schools there is in Texas and one is in Arkansas. So, I didn’t really even think about it, because I think I flew into Texas when I went down there to see him.
“I’m going to a meeting with him here in about a half hour. I’ll have to give him some trouble for that.”
Wyrick is familiar with Arkansas, having spent a week in Fayetteville for a high school all-star game and having spurned the Razorbacks to come to Missouri.
“They recruited me,” Wyrick said. “But at the end of my junior year they wanted me to come to their camp. I didn’t really wanna go because I didn’t really have an interest. After that, they kind of backed off.”
As a freshman, Wyrick is redshirting, so he won’t play against Arkansas. That hasn’t diminished his excitement about playing close to home against the in-state team.
“I’m very excited about it,” Wyrick said. “It’d be better if I was gonna play, but it’s still gonna be good.”
Wyrick’s roommate, freshman linebacker Lorenzo Williams, said Wyrick hasn’t been able to hide his excitement since the bowl announcement was made.
“He’s told me a few things about Arkansas,” Williams said. “He’s ready to go home. He’s pretty excited about it. A lot of his family will be there.”
Wyrick said because Shreveport is near his hometown, he expects a big contingent of friends and family.
“It’s about an hour away,” Wyrick said. “They’ll all be there. Mostly everybody I know will be at the game.”
Wyrick is listed as 6 feet 4 and 315 pounds, but he has clearly lost weight since practice began in August. When he reported to practice, Wyrick struggled to make a lap around the football field, lagging far behind his teammates.
Wyrick has worked hard to improve his conditioning, though, and is beginning to do much better when the time comes to run laps. The physical demands he has faced since coming to Missouri are in stark contrast to what he experienced in high school, Wyrick said.
“It’s been different,” Wyrick said. “I was used to being in an environment where bigger is better. Here it’s a little different. They want you more conditioned; I had to lose a little weight.”
Williams said he and the rest of the Tigers like to tease Wyrick “all the time” about his conditioning, but Wyrick sees it more as encouragement than making fun.
“Naw, naw, they don’t razz me,” Wyrick said. “They’re like, ‘Come on, come on,’ but they understand, with how much I weigh and stuff like that, why I don’t run as fast. They know I’m a great athlete, though.”
On Dec. 31, Wyrick will get a fitting reward for the hard work he has put in, standing across the field from his home-state team, knowing those he holds near and dear are in the stands cheering for the Tigers.
Wyrick didn’t have much interest in the Razorbacks during the recruiting chase, but the interest is building.
“Oh yeah, for a different reason,” Wyrick said. “To beat ’em.”