The rest of Tre Williams’ spring will be spent in a sling.
Williams, a Columbia native and Rock Bridge alum, had surgery to repair a torn left labrum last week that will keep him out of the Missouri football team’s remaining spring practices and the April 14 spring game. Coach Barry Odom said he suffered the injury during practice.
Odom said Pat Smith, the team’s head physician and a specialist in arthroscopic surgery with the Columbia Orthopedic Group, performed the surgery. Rex Sharp, the team’s head trainer, will lead Williams through rehab.
“Tre will eat it up,” Odom said. “He’ll be ready when we start back in June.”
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Williams was listed as a starter at defensive end on the spring depth chart after recording three sacks and five quarterback hurries as a redshirt freshman last season.
Torn labrums are nothing new for Missouri. Damarea Crockett had labrum surgery after injuring his shoulder against Georgia on Oct. 14. Charles Harris had surgery to repair a torn labrum the spring before his senior season, and Kentrell Brothers went through the same process in 2014.
Crockett’s prognosis is to be determined, but Harris and Brothers recovered from the procedure to have big senior seasons before signing lucrative NFL contracts.
“There have been a number of guys that have reached out to Tre (to tell him) it’s kind of a minor thing, just get going,” Odom said. “That was a good message, and I appreciate those guys doing that.”
Fortunately, the Tigers have spent the spring preparing for such a situation. The plan from the beginning was for Missouri to spread its abundance of talent on the interior of the defensive line to the exterior, and Williams’ absence will speed up that process.
“Those guys that have trained inside, they’re going to get a few more reps outside,” Odom said. “I think that will serve us well moving forward, because you don’t ever want to count on a bunch of guys coming in as freshmen to fill in and be that guy on the edge. The combination of Akial Byers and Jordan Elliott and Caleb Sampson — we’ve got a number of guys we’re moving inside and out that will help us.”
SOUTH END ZONE ADJUSTMENT: While the athletic department adjusts to Memorial Stadium having its lowest capacity since the 1970s, Odom and his players will have to adjust to a new playing environment in 2018 with the south end zone under construction.
The team has not practiced at the stadium since demolition started on the bleachers March 13, but it will have a closed scrimmage Saturday on Faurot Field.
“The sightline, you’ve got to get trained to catch the ball. It’s a different environment, but we’re obviously excited about what’s taking place over there,” Odom said. “We’ll live through some of the struggles knowing what the end is going to be like for all of us.”
ON THE RUN: Ideally, spring break offers a chance for rest and recovery — though offensive coordinator Derek Dooley has long believed it has the opposite effect.
“Vacation, all that does is make you tired. Everybody thinks you rest and recover. I think it’s the opposite,” Dooley said. ... “The best thing they need is the routine. Practice, school, right? I think back when I was 18. When I had a week off, I didn’t reflect.”
Now that the Tigers are all back under one roof, Dooley can continue to experiment with Missouri’s offense.
The unit will continue to run variations of the spread, but Dooley’s belief that a good run game breeds success in the Southeastern Conference could lead to heavier packages.
Without a true fullback on the roster, Dooley alluded to putting one of Missouri’s four tight ends into the backfield as a hybrid. Alec Abeln, a former offensive lineman, played such a role at times last season.
That stable of tight ends — led by SEC all-freshman team selection Albert Okwuegbunam and including Kendall Blanton, Logan Christopherson and Brendan Scales — can be reliable aerial threats, too.“They all have tools to be good receivers,” Dooley said. ... “We got another one coming in the fall (freshman Messiah Swinson) who’s got tools. It’s just a matter of what they can do consistently. We’ll figure that out over time.”