Two transfers, one underclassman who impressed in Missouri football's spring game

With that, spring camp’s a wrap. Missouri football held its Black & Gold spring game Saturday in front of a healthy crowd in the Memorial Stadium east stand. The Tigers honored their Cotton Bowl-winning NFL Draft hopefuls on the field, where the Black team, led by running backs coach Curtis Luper, claimed a 10-9 win over linebackers coach D.

J. Smith’s Gold team. And Missouri offered fans their first glimpse of the 2024 Tigers, who have now completed 12 practices and, with them, spring ball.

Most position battles appear to be headed into the fall. In the meantime, here are three standout players from the spring game: Joshua Manning, wide receiver Touchdowns were a rare commodity Saturday. The first, and eventual game-winning, end zone trip came courtesy of sophomore wide receiver, Joshua Manning, a Kansas City product.

He rose above safety Marvin Bruks on the pass from starting quarterback Brady Cook, turned, and from a couple yards from the goal line appeared to be stopped in accordance with the no-live-tackling rules in the game. The officials took some time, and eventually, the stadium announcer confirmed the play as a touchdown. What do you think, Josh? Were you in? “Yes,” Manning said.

“Yes sir, yes I do. ” Manning has a tall order breaking onto the depth chart with established and experienced receivers Luther Burden III, Theo Wease Jr. and Mookie Cooper among the group returning for the Tigers.

But the underclassman, who was named offensive MVP for the spring game, has been patient — and paying attention. “Just learning what I can,” Manning said. “I feel like that's very important.

I feel like we have the best group in the country. So, yeah, I would feel (like) a fool to not sit back and take advantage of all the advice that they give to me. ” Something he won’t likely learn any time soon: The gold team’s lone touchdown of the day came on a trick-play pass from Wease to Cooper.

The ensuing fourth-quarter two-point conversion to potentially take the lead, with backup Brett Brown back as the active QB, came up short. Toriano Pride Jr. , cornerback Missouri’s wide receivers are no slouches in the contested-catch department.

Wease, earlier in camp, said he thinks he should earn the maximum rating in the category in the upcoming EA Sports College Football video game. On one slightly short back-shoulder fade to Manning, it was the cornerback, Toriano Pride Jr. , who came up big man-on-man.

Pride, a St. Louis product and offseason transfer acquisition from Clemson, came down with the deep ball from Cook. Pride has the makings of a solid cornerback for Missouri, which is a position the Tigers wouldn’t mind replenishing with starters Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

and Kris Abrams-Draine headed to the NFL. Ja’Mariyon Wayne and Shamar McNeil saw extensive reps at corner in the spring alongside the experienced, presumed-starter Dreyden Norwood. Saturday’s showing suggests Pride will be heavily involved come the fall, too.

Later in the game, Caleb Flagg, a walk-on transfer safety from Houston Christian and the brother of transfer MU linebacker Corey Flagg Jr. , picked off freshman QB Aidan Glover. It was, according to the Tigers’ spring game head coaches, about Caleb Flagg’s seventh interception of the spring.

Chris McClellan, defensive tackle Florida transfer Chris McClellan was credited with a pair of sacks in the first half of the spring game, as he trotted out as a starter for the gold team. Missouri’s lone returning starter from the four-man tackle rotation in 2023 is Kristian Williams, but he was unavailable to play Saturday. That left the Tigers with four new faces.

The Tigers are replacing Jayden Jernigan, Realus George Jr. and Josh Landry in the interior. McClellan made the case for a starting role come the new season.

Joining him at the tackle spots when the field was primarily staffed with starters and key rotation players, was St. Charles High product Marquis Gracial; New Mexico State transfer Sterling Webb; and Overland Park, Kansas, native Jalen Marshall. Redshirt freshman Sam Williams and junior Ky Montgomery also subbed in to the game.


Calum McAndrew
Filed 03.17.2024

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