After former Missouri left guard Tony Palmer finished his workout at Missouri’s pro day on March 2, he gave current Tigers left guard Monte Wyrick a gift: the gloves he used during the workout.
The gloves were a symbol of Palmer’s appreciation for Wyrick’s vocal support during Palmer’s pro-day workout. On Thursday, Wyrick, a junior, put those gloves to use. They kept his hands warm during the Tigers’ first spring practice of the season.
On a cold, rainy and windy afternoon that Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said reminded him of his time at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wyrick took the field at Memorial Stadium wearing the same black and white NFL Equipment gloves that Palmer wore a week ago inside the cozier climes of Devine Pavilion. Unwittingly, Palmer once again assisted his former understudy.
“We were like brothers,” Wyrick said of Palmer. “He was a real good mentor to me, and he still is a really good friend.”
During the three years that Palmer and Wyrick were teammates, Palmer was the starting left guard and Wyrick was either a redshirt or a backup. With Palmer graduating, Wyrick will get the first chance to replace his friend at left guard. Even though Wyrick played in 11 games last season and is currently listed as the starting left guard, Pinkel isn’t promising him the job.
“Monte had a great offseason, but there are other guys in there competing for that job,” Pinkel said. “You don’t slide one over and slide one up (on the depth chart). You might do that now, but the depth chart changes.”
If Wyrick follows the advice of his friend, he shouldn’t have much trouble staying at the top of the list.
Wyrick said that Palmer, a three-time All-Big 12 Conference selection, told him he should try to “work harder than everybody else to be better” and “try to be a leader” now that he has a chance to be a starter.
“We talked and he told me that it’s my turn to step up and play hard,” Wyrick said.
To replace Palmer, Wyrick will have to do more than just play hard. Besides his performance on the field, Palmer was the vocal leader of the offensive line. Wyrick, or whoever takes the left guard position, is expected to be the only new starter next season. So far, Wyrick said he thinks he fits in well with his teammates.
“We all are close, and we’re working on getting closer,” Wyrick said. “I think we’re all just like one. I think were just working well together. Everybody is working together to help each other get better.”
One Tiger who was absent from practice Thursday was senior defensive end Brian Smith. Smith’s father, Arthur Montgomery, died Sunday. Smith is at home with his family in Denton, Texas.