Mizzou Cornerback Prefers Playing Away From the Line

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COLUMBIA -- Football is a team game, but few positions can seem as lonely as defensive back. Mizzou's E.J. Gaines says he actually relishes life on an island.

E.J. Gaines has a typical pregame routine, and then he talks to his dad.

"He really puts it in my head to be a great player. He calls me before every game and gives me this little speech and everything before a game. It's kinda cool," Gaines said.

Gaines carries his father's words into the game, and his father's name with him all the time.

"My real name is Edwin Gaines Junior. I'm a Junior," Gaines said.

The youngest of four children, E.J. is the son his father always wanted.

"I'm guessing he had a plan," Gaines said. "My dad could not wait for a son. I was it. I'm the youngest and I'm the last."

The last child, and for Mizzou, often the last line of defense.

Gaines prefers the one on one battle against a receiver.

"You got an extra split second to get a pass rush in and he gives us that I think and that's big on getting sacks," senior Brad Madison said.

"I do like man to man coverages. If I do get beat I'm still glad I was on an island when it happened and when I make plays it makes that much more of a difference," Gaines said.

"He never gets really rattled by anything. If he makes a good play or bad play he's calm. Just knowing that he can cover everything. He can act like he's covering something else, but cover something else at the same time," redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser said.

Gaines says his success in games is a simple process, practice like you play.

"I feel confident on the work that I put into being a good player. I feel like that's what you need to concentrate on being a cornerback. Just being confident when you're out there on an island. If you can do it in practice you can do it in a game," Gaines said.

Just don't call him a defensive back, he prefers cornerback.

"I remember one play in scrimmage where he picked me off. He made a nice catch on me this spring and after that I didn't go to him for awhile," Berkstresser said.

So far this season, Gaines has 18 tackles, four of them for a loss. He's also broken up a team high four passes.