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“It’s a wide open competition”: Mizzou working to replace veteran center


Mizzou football coach Eli Drinkwitz said the competition for who will be MU's starting center is wide open through four days of fall camp.

Redshirt freshman Connor Tollison took a large portion of the reps at center at Thursday's practice. The Missouri native made an impression on Drinkwitz through spring ball and appears to be carrying that into fall camp.

"Connor is doing what we ask him to do. He's really been embracing the competition, you know, he started it in the spring and this summer really dove into the playbook," Drinkwitz said. "He's very athletic, we knew that going in and he's very intelligent. He's got an opportunity, but he's going to be pushed by both Drake and Richard and it's a wide open competition."

Tollison said he snapped a little bit in his time at Jackson High School so he would be well-rounded, but it's the first time he's been officially moved over to center.

"At tackle you probably got two, three feet to your opponent, but at center it can be six inches to a foot," Tollison said. "When things don't go how you thought they were, the X's and O's don't line up where you thought they were, you got to make changes and that's my job."

You can watch the full interview with Tollison in the video player below.

Tollison said it's been good for him to work with the more experienced guys on Mizzou's offensive line. The Tigers have six seniors and graduate students on the line in 2022, including fifth-year senior Xavier Delgado.

"It's kind of just showing them the way and being the leader for these younger guys," Delgado said. "We have a lot more depth than we've had since I've been here, my five years. It's just showing them the right way to go about things and establishing good habits."

You can watch the full interview with Delgado in the video player below.

Delgado added that with MU's offense, the center is the quarterback of the offensive line. It's just Tollison's second year in Columbia, but he's shown leadership so far.

"He's done a good job of leading that group as far as in the calls and knowing it. You build trust and respect with your teammates when you know what to do and he's been able to prove that," Drinkwitz said.

We also spoke with Mizzou defensive back D.J. Jackson. You can watch the full interview with him in the video player below.
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Nathalie Jones

Nathalie anchors and reports sports for ABC17. She started working at the station in June 2020.


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