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August 14, 2005
Veteran trio fights for starting spots
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Between them, Calvin Washington, A.J. Kincade and Marcus King have now been in the Missouri football program for 15 years, or nearly as long as some of the new recruits have been alive.
Each player is entering his fifth season as a Tiger. That experience is the major reason those three are considered Missouri's top three corners.
"Geez, it's awesome," said corners coach Cornell Ford. "They're experienced, they understand what we're doing, they understand the defense and they like to play."
The presence of that trio is the reason there has not been much hand-wringing over the graduation of Shirdonya Mitchell or the dismissal of Alex Woodley.
"We're pretty athletic and we've got some guys that can run and move around," Ford said. "We feel pretty good about our talent."
It is a far cry from the day Gary Pinkel took the Missouri job. He has often told the story of finding out he had one cornerback on scholarship, and that corner was getting ready to have surgery.
"Certianly it's remarkably different, most positions are," Pinkel said. "That's an area that I think we've done a pretty good job on...For the most part, athletically, we line up three deep there with pretty good athleticism."
For the time being, Washington and Kincade are the slated starters. That is due in large part to King's off-the-field situation. He was suspended for spring football with a court case pending when he was charged with felony destruction of property. The case was plead down and King was able to rejoin the team for summer workouts.
"I worked out on my own did what I could do and then came back whenever summer came," King said. "I'm happy to be out here, back with the team, back with the family, back hanging out with the boys. It's one thing I missed, but things are back to normal for me."
Well, not quite normal. A season ago, King played in all 11 games, making 33 tackles. He was a part-time starter. He now stands third on the depth chart due to the offseason suspension.
"It is harder, but at the same time you've got to go out there and you've just got to work," King said. "I'm just going to work hard like everybody else is so I can get back up where I was."
"He hasn't missed a step. Hasn't missed a step at all," said Ford. "He came back in and he's moving his way back up the depth chart."
Once King gets back in the groove, it is generally expected that he will join Washington and Kincade as Missouri's top three cover-men. But as for which two will win the starting spots, that is up in the air.
"There's been competition between us since our freshman year," said Kincade. "It's no big deal. We learn from each other and we feed off each other. It's all in good competition."
"Everybody's out there to compete," King added. "We have young guys also that are out there to compete just like we are. The jobs are up for grabs. It's not just the seniors, it's everybody."
The jobs may be up for grabs, but experience goes a long way. Expect the young guys to learn a few lessons on how things are done over the next few weeks from the Tigers' trio of veterans.
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