COLUMBIA, Mo. — The bye week was a busy one for Gary Pinkel. While his players rested and tried to get ahead on schoolwork, the Mizzou football coach visited media outlets in St. Louis and Kansas City. When Pinkel stopped by FOX Sports Midwest, we asked him to name some young guys who should be on the radar of Mizzou fans. Here, straight from the coach, are some up and coming players worth tracking.
Impact: Has just one catch in two games, a six-yard grab in the season opener against Murray State. Was on pace to play as a true freshman last year but broke a finger and sat out.
Pinkel: “He’s really an impressive young player. He will be a great player, no question about it.”
Harold Brantley, defensive tackle, redshirt freshman, 6-3, 290
Impact: Brantley has already forced his way up the depth chart. He will be the starting defensive tackle when the Tigers take the field against Indiana on Saturday.
Pinkel: “Movement like Sheldon Richardson. … He’s a guy that’s standing out now.”
Aarion Penton, cornerback, freshman, 5-10, 185
Impact: With second-string cornerback Ernest Payton out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL, Penton is now the first backup behind starting senior corner E.J. Gaines.
Pinkel: “He’s going to be really good, the way he is playing right now.’
Levi Copelin, wide receiver, redshirt freshman, 6-2, 190
Impact: Has made the most out of his limited targets. Two catches for 58 yards, one of which was a diving 51-yarder against Toledo in Week 2.
Pinkel: “He’s quite a bit bigger” than he was last year.
AN UNPLEASANT CHAPTER
Mizzou fans incapable of taking off their rose-colored glasses might want to avoid bookstores tomorrow. There’s a Tiger-specific chapter that’s not pretty.
“The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football,” by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, publishes Tuesday. One of the book’s 27 chapters focuses specifically on the Missouri athletic tutoring program and the “friends with benefits” culture that exists between tutors and athletes.
Benedict, the author of the chapter, has denied Mizzou’s claim that he never contacted the school for an interview; he says he tried twice.
That tension is a good sign this is a story Mizzou would have rather kept quiet.
STORMIN’ NORMAN’S STATUE
The chair is the perfect touch. It is rocking backward, front legs in the air, the result of a coach who has just jumped to his feet to get after a referee.
Norm Stewart is always getting after something, it seems. It used to be opponents on the baseball diamond and basketball court. Then it became his Missouri basketball players, the refs and the sportswriters who covered the Tigers. These days, it’s cancer — he beat colon cancer and founded the Coaches vs. Cancer organization.
While he has mellowed some, a result of being 78, Stewart is and always will be remembered for the fire that fueled him through 32 seasons as the Tigers’ head coach (1967-1999).
Harry Weber — the sculptor who created the larger-than-life bronze statue of Stewart that was unveiled this weekend at the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mo. — captured the intensity perfectly.