ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The University of Missouri football program started spring practice Friday afternoon in Columbia. You often hear a lot about sports teams trying to get everyone on the same page. On Friday, everyone in the Tiger program at least put on the same jersey.
They wore the number 40, in honor Norris Stevenson, who became the first African-American football player on scholarship when he was recruited from Vashon in 1958. Stevenson, who died in 2012, later played in the NFL and the CFL before coaching track and field at St. Louis Community College for thirty years.
“None of us would be here if it wasn’t for the courage and strength that he showed to be the first African-American football player at Mizzou,” Head Coach Eli Drinkwitz said after practice. “We wanted to honor him and all be Norris Stevenson today.”
INJURY UPDATE: Drinkwitz announced three more players would miss Spring practice due to recovery from offseason surgery: WR Jalen Knox, DB Jarvis Ware and TE Niko Hea (CBC). DE Trajan Jeffcoat is considered day to day. Drinkwitz said Tuesday that Linebackers Cameron Wilkens, Jatorian Hansford, DL Kobie Whiteside and S Jelani Williams (Parkway North) would be out for the spring.
BADIE READY: Running back Larry Rountree’s departure for the NFL draft means the Tigers lose one of their biggest offensive assets heading into 2021. Senior Tyler Badie sounded after practice like someone very willing to take the baton and run with it. Badie, who has excelled as an all-purpose back, both running and receiving, said he’d do whatever coaches ask of him, but made clear he sees himself as an every down back.
“I’ve been waiting around three years for this time, so I feel like I’ve matured and I’m ready to take over when Larry left,” he said.
Drinkwitz said the public would be able to watch three open practices, including the March 20 spring game. The March 6 and March 13 practices will be open, starting at 10:30am. A time has not been announced for the spring game. Face coverings and social distancing will be required.