Mizzou down at least dozen players vs. No. 2 Alabama due to COVID-19
Missouri football will be without at least 12 players for its season opener against No. 2 Alabama on Sept. 26 due to the Southeastern Conference’s coronavirus protocols.
Tigers head football coach Eli Drinkwitz declined to indicate during a Zoom call with reporters how many of the dozen players have tested positive for COVID-19 or how many absences are the result of contact tracing.
The identities of the sidelined players have not been made public.
The absences stemmed from tests taken Sunday. Each SEC athlete and coach will be tested three times per week (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday) during the fall season. Results from up to five more rounds of testing could raise the Tigers’ number of players ineligible to face the Crimson Tide.
The SEC is expected to adopt a 53-player minimum for games this season, but Drinkwitz isn’t concerned that the matchup against Alabama will be postponed.
“I'm not Miss Cleo. I can't forecast the future. I just take the results that come to me right now,” Drinkwitz said. “We’ve got 12 guys missing and we got a 111-man roster. So I don't know. Right now, we're fine, not worried about it. But again, get with me tomorrow. We just got tested today and we take another test Friday, we take another test Sunday. But I can't forecast the future.”
Drinkwitz said no cases, to his knowledge, are the result of transmission through team facilities, and most positive cases involve roommates who are contact traced. Zoom meetings are the only activity quarantined Tigers may participate in.
Missouri on Wednesday confirmed its first two opt-outs for the 2020 season: wide receiver Maurice Massey and defensive tackle Chris Daniels.
Neither player will lose a year of eligibility because of NCAA COVID-19 guidelines.
Daniels is a redshirt senior who transferred to Missouri from Texas and played in two games last season. Massey, a St. Louis native, is a redshirt freshman who played in three games last year.
Drinkwitz said he doesn’t anticipate either player wanting to opt back in this season based on their conversations.
“From the beginning, if they choose to opt out, we have their back, we support them and wish them well. And then we carry on,” Drinkwitz said. “We want to make sure that they're taken care of academically and taken care of with training and whatever aspects we can help them, but we're moving on with guys that want to play this year. And it's a different dynamic because individually you respect them and wish them well. But then, you’ve got to snap back in and do what's best for the team moving forward
“... We’ve got to focus on the guys that are going to be here and going to help us contribute to winning this season. So it's two sides.”
Former Jefferson City standout Daniel Ellinger, a wide receiver, has left the Tigers to pursue endeavors outside of football.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Wednesday night that Alabama started testing its players daily for COVID-19 on Monday. Alabama had previously followed the SEC’s mandated tri-weekly testing policy, Saban said.
"We just thought that it gives the players a peace of mind," Saban said. "It's the best thing for the players. It's the best thing for the program. We have the capabilities and resources to do it, so we're happy to do it.
"But we just decided this week that we would test our guys every day. With that, hopefully everybody feels safe and it will help the fact that maybe we won't have to quarantine some of these guys, minimize exposure."
Saban said he didn’t know of any Alabama players who would be “out for sure” against Missouri.
"We may have some injured players who may not recover enough to be able to play in the game,” Saban said.