Thomson Omboga never shies away from contact on the field or from talking about the role he plays on the Missouri football team.
After his best game of the season, an eight-catch performance for 96 yards on Saturday against Nebraska, Omboga, a senior wide receiver, spoke his mind.
“I think I bring a lot of confidence and a lot of toughness to the team and a willingness to just go out there and make big plays,” Omboga said. “Hopefully that will reflect off on some other people knowing that they see me taking a hard shot and get up and go make another play. So I’m sure I bring a lot of inspiration to others to do the same thing.”
One of the first times Omboga showed his toughness was against Troy State in 2002. He caught a 20-yard pass in the middle of the field and suffered cracked ribs when two Trojan defenders hit him.
The key moment in his transformation into a team leader came later that season, though, when he was suspended from the team.
“They kicked me off the team for running my mouth too much,” Omboga said. “You have to watch what you say. I understand their point but of course I was upset, because I wanted to get my point across regardless of what their point was.”
He said the suspension helped him mature and learn there were more important things than himself.
“When I first came in, I was bigheaded, well I wouldn’t say bigheaded, just confident in knowing the things I could do, so when I felt like I was not getting the opportunities I needed, I would say it,” he said. “Now, I know that there are more important things than just me, so I would say I just came a little bit down in realizing we have other goals than making myself look good. I’ve just matured over the years.”
Omboga said he is working harder in practice and in the weight room, trying to become a more complete player. He wants to improve as a blocker and even try to become a more physical receiver.
Coach Gary Pinkel and his assistants noticed his toughness and his ability to make catches over the middle.
“You don’t want anybody to shy away from contact,” Pinkel said. “There are some guys who are maybe a little more courageous, or maybe they go in under any circumstances and don’t really care.
“(Omboga) makes plays in traffic and we’ve all seen it. He’s a tough athlete, and I can’t tell you how pleased I am with his progress in this program. He’s got that ingredient. He doesn’t care where it’s at. He’s a tremendous plus for us, and he’s a great visual aid for our other receivers.”
Omboga said there is more hard work ahead, especially considering the Tigers’ inability to score a touchdown in the past six quarters.
“I don’t really feel too much pressure, I know we’re going to have to work hard and actually get the game going because we’ve lost three, so we know we’re not doing something correct,” he said.