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December 9, 2010

Bowl workouts begin



Leading up to the Insight Bowl in Tempe on December 28th, PowerMizzou.com will provide complete FREE coverage of the Tigers' bowl practices. Missouri opened preparation for the Insight with an indoor workout in shorts and shoulder pads on Thursday afternoon. Here are the notes from the workout:

*Jasper Simmons was not at practice and remains suspended. Considering Simmons is a senior, his days as a Tiger are over.

*I talked with injured defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton after practice. He told me they had tried to take the cast off his broken ankle earlier this week but it just wasn't ready. Hamilton said he is probably still only about 45% and hopes to be ready for spring ball.

*Kevin Rutland didn't practice, still dealing with back problems. Kerwin Stricker had a red pullover on. Everyone else that was expected to be available against Iowa practiced.

*I noticed during the workout that when the first-team defense was on the field, it was Andrew Gachkar in the middle with Zaviar Gooden and Jarrell Harrison on either side. With Harrison working at linebacker, Tavon Bolden takes on added reps at safety. During one-on-one passing drills, Bolden impressed with his coverage skills.

*Some alignment notes along the offensive line: Justin Britt was working as the second-team center. Tim Barnes is the only lineman leaving after this year and word around the program is that Britt is the heir apparent to the position. Mitch Morse was working at left guard and Anthony Gatti at left tackle with the second-string offense. Nick Demien was at right guard with the third unit.

*Brayden Burnett and Kony Ealy were a couple of young linemen that stood out in one-on-one drills. But, to be fair, they should when they're going against the third-team.

*Bud Sasser looks bigger than he did in fall camp and made a nice catch in traffic over the middle. Sasser is a guy who could really make some waves in the spring and fall.

*Speaking of redshirts, Braylon Webb had one of the day's highlights when he picked off a tipped pass from Tyler Gabbert. The pass had gone off the hands of Matt Hoch.

*Gabbert got his revenge in today's Play of the Day: Gabbert launched a ball deep down the middle. Jimmie Hunt initially turned the wrong way, then readjusted and reached out with one hand to make a spectacular grab for about 40 yards. Hunt looked phenomenal in fall camp and would have played this year had he not gotten hurt midway through.

I asked Michael Egnew about some of the young receivers who have impressed him.

"They're all really good players," said Egnew, ever the diplomat. "I would feel comfortable letting any one of them play."

These practices are the ones where such young players can separate themselves. Egnew began to do so last December, in preparation for the Texas Bowl. He came in with just seven catches, but a solid performance in bowl workouts led to a standout spring and an 83-catch, 698-yard junior season. That all culminated on Thursday afternoon when he was named a first-team all-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

"It's an honor," Egnew said. "I'll probably wait till after the season to really think about that. During the season, you just want to catch all the footballs you can."

Egnew most definitely did that, becoming the third Tiger tight end to earn all-American honors in the last four seasons.

"That is a pretty big deal, you kidding me? We get to put another painting up in our all-American hallway," Pinkel said. "I know Ruck and Coffman would be very proud of him also. It's pretty cool. He's worked very, very hard."

Egnew did not win the John Mackey Award. That went to Arkansas' D.J. Williams.

*The Tigers return to the practice field on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. and PowerMizzou.com will be on hand. In addition, tomorrow we will begin a series of stories on the 17 players who redshirted for Missouri this season.

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