COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Mizzou football coach Eli Drinkwitz said that he and his team are excited to honor a group of 27 seniors that have given quite a bit to the Tiger football program over the years. There are guys that have been in Columbia their whole careers, guys who came on board when Drinkwitz did and others who came on recently.
The Tigers will honor their seniors before Saturday's 6:30 p.m. game against Florida. After the game wraps up, it is also tradition for those seniors to pick a rock from the 'M' in the north end zone and be carried off the field with it by their teammates.
Drinkwitz said these guys will leave a legacy that he marks a new trajectory of MU football.
"Restore the roar of Faurot Field," he said. "We'd kind of been stuck there, in that middle, and now obviously this year we're not. Obviously, we've got to finish. We got to finish the season, but there's a new respectability to our program, whether it's on the recruiting trail or on the football field and that's a tribute to those guys."
You can watch the full press conference with Drinkwitz in the video player below.
Corners Kris Abrams-Draine and Ennis Rakestraw, defensive backs JC Carlies and Caimin Hayes, offensive linemen Xavier Delgado and Javon Foster, tight end Shawn Hendershot, kicker Harrison Mevis, linebacker Chad Bailey and defensive end Darius Robinson all chose to be at Mizzou for their entire careers.
Robinson said that playing at Faurot Field one last time will, no doubt, be an emotional experience.
"It's been five years. I thought last year was the last time, but now this time is really the last time," he said. "I'm gonna do something special on senior night, but you'll see on Saturday. I'm excited, but also very sad at the same time."
You can watch the full press conference with Robinson in the video player below.
The rest of the seniors decided to join Drinkwitz's team after starting their careers elsewhere. No matter what the story, Coach Eli said their mark on the program has been indelible.
A guy like running back Cody Schrader, who started at Division II Truman State, has left his mark over his two years in Columbia. Just on Tuesday, he was named a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is given to the most outstanding college football player who started as a walk-on.
"He came on and walked-on here, took a chance on himself, and got to balling, from the first day that I met him. He got to balling. I think about it all the time, he works so hard. He's probably the hardest worker I know, in my life. He goes home on break and he's working out. He's here in this facility, he's working out. He's doing something extra all the time and is a great role model for this team," linebacker Chuck Hicks said.
You can watch the full press conference with Hicks, as well as defensive back Daylan Carnell in the video players below.
The honor comes after Schrader made SEC history in Mizzou's dominant win over Tennessee, on Saturday. The St. Louis-native is now the only player in conference history to rush for 200 yards and receive for 100 yards in the same game.
Schrader said, on Saturday, that he always jokes with offensive coordinator Kirby Moore that he wants to get more involved in the passing game. Quarterback Brady Cook joked that he always tells Schrader to be ready to get a target, but Saturday it actually came to fruition.
"You know, this week, I'm gonna have my eyes on seven on those check downs and what not, so we'll see," Cook said.
You can watch the full press conference with Cook in the video player below.
Defensively, the Tigers are pretty senior heavy. Player said the experience has been a good thing, especially in getting the younger guys ready for the next man up mentality.
At the start of the 2023 season, Robinson said the defense was not playing up to the level they expected. However, in the back half of the season, the group has stood tall in some critical moments. Defensive lineman Jayden Jernigan said that improvement just comes down everyone buying in and dedicating themselves during practice.
"Darius Robinson came up and spoke, I think it was Wednesday practice, that we just have to be glued in. We have to really trust coach [Blake] Baker and we did. That's the result you get when you trust your coaching staff," he said.
You can watch the full press conference with Jernigan in the video player below.
Mizzou will be hosting a Florida team that has their backs up against the wall, fighting for bowl eligibility, sitting at 5-5 this season.
"They're a really good football team. I know their record isn't what they want," Drinkwitz said. "They obviously have some really talented players. I mean, you look at their roster and it's littered with four and five star guys, top to bottom."
Although the awards and national accolades may be rolling in, MU is making sure to stick by it's motto of 'something prove.' Robinson, as a team captain, has made sure everyone is staying grounded.
"I remember what it was like last year. We were 5-5, just fighting and scraping. I think we still have that same intensity, but obviously it looks different because we're winning. I don't want people to think that we're relaxing now. Like I said, we could easily, two weeks from now, be like what happened the past two weeks? We only won eight games. I think the intensity and fire is still there," he said.
Mizzou and Florida will kick off at 6:30 p.m. at Faurot Field, on Saturday.