Six superlatives for Missouri’s spring season

The Missouri football team practices Thursday in Columbia. Due to the rain, practice was moved inside for the day.

Emily Leiker

Missouri’s first full spring season under coach Eliah Drinkwitz is drawing to a close, with one more closed practice Friday.

“It felt like we did exactly what we set out to … accomplish, which is to see individual player development, improve in our fundamentals and techniques, which I think we did,” Drinkwitz said.

As a wrap-up for the spring, the Missourian assigned players to five superlatives and gave Drinkwitz one of his own.

Most Improved: Shawn Robinson

It’s not uncommon for players to switch positions from high school to college or even after a year or two collegiately.

But, in his fifth year of college ball, Robinson has switched to the opposite side of the ball.

The redshirt senior has made significant strides this offseason in his transition to safety.

He’s focused on cardio and weight gain — though he lost nine pounds in February — while also learning some technical aspects of his new position from coaches and teammates.

“He does a great job, he’s got great energy and he’s not afraid to go up and make a tackle when he needs to,” quarterback Connor Bazelak said March 13.

New Player to Watch: Mookie Cooper

It felt like Cooper was brought up at almost every news conference this spring.

The first thing Drinkwitz said about the transfer wide receiver was, “Mookie’s fast,” a simple yet accurate analysis. Fans are already eyeing Cooper, so it might be unfair to call the four-star former Ohio State Buckeye someone to watch, but it’s also hard not to.

Offensive Standout: Tauskie Dove

When asked about Bazelak’s improvement throwing deep balls this spring, Drinkwitz referenced a pass the QB made to the redshirt junior Dove.

“In the spring game, that deep ball down the sideline to Tauskie was a pretty good view of us really being able to improve on that throw,” Drinkwitz said.

Drinkwitz’s focus might have been on Bazelak’s improved ability to make that pass, but it wouldn’t have been a talking point if Dove hadn’t caught it. In 2020, Dove logged 300 yards on 30 receptions, the fifth-most on the team.

Defensive Standout: Realus George Jr.

George Jr. found himself in the backfield a number of times during scrimmages this spring, quickly establishing himself as a force on the Tiger defense. George, a transfer from Independence Community College, earned his number this spring.

Drinkwitz said the junior has a “good motor” and has brought energy to the defensive line.

Returning Player to Watch: Martez Manuel

Missouri should have a strong secondary group this fall, and Manuel will be one of its leaders, both in terms of rallying his teammates and performance on the field.

The junior had 64 total tackles last season, seven for loss. He logged a season-high 12 in Missouri’s win over Arkansas.

“Our expectations for Martez is to be the best version of himself that he can be, developing to be the best player that he’s capable of becoming and really working on trying to master this scheme,” Drinkwitz said March 16.

Best Drinkwitz Quote

“Crud, it’s like every day is Christmas around here. You just get new information, you’re never quite sure if we’re masking up, two masking up, no masking up, going to Texas and not having any mask or going to California and double masking and walking in. I mean, are we taking one shot, two shots, how many shots? I don’t know. So, whatever. Just get me back to 56,000 people in Faurot going crazy and winning some football games and going crazy and tearing down goal posts.”

It’s hard not to feel like this quote encapsulates what it’s felt like to live through the past year’s never-ending news cycle in a weird way. At the heart of it? Drinkwitz is ready to be back on Faurot Field this fall, and he’s hoping Missouri fans are ready to be there as well.