Barry Odom on Sports Xtra

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COLUMBIA – Mizzou football head coach Barry Odom joined Chris Gervino on Sports Xtra to talk about spring football and the prospects for next season, as well as the NCAA sanctions and the NFL Draft.

After going through the first half of spring practice prior to Mizzou’s spring break, Odom is starting to get a feel for what he has to work with come fall. Among the new players is highly touted Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant.

Odom spoke not only on Bryant’s talent as a player, but on his potential to be a leader in this Tigers team.

"He's on a mission to play really well but also to be a leader of this team," Odom said of Bryant, and praised his personality in the locker room as well calling it “infectious.”

The coach was also impressed with his new quarterback’s growth since arriving in January that is now even more evident getting into spring practices. “…he's gotten better every day we've hit the field," Odom praised.

On the defensive side of things, he likes the potential he sees in some of his young players.

"I think we've got an opportunity with some guys that aren't the marquee names yet, that's because they haven't played a lot on Saturdays yet."

In particular, he sees a good potentially great run defense with the youth on the line.

The young players up front are balanced by veteran leadership in the Tigers linebackers and secondary. Senior linebacker Cale Garrett “…is as smart of a football player as I've ever been around," and Odom will rely on his leadership on the defensive side of the ball. He also is expecting Jordan Elliot to follow up a strong finish to last year with an impressive season.

There’s going to be an unusual element to the Tiger’s schedule this fall in that they have five consecutive home games grouped around the bye week. Odom joked he “…tried to get all 12 at home," then went on to emphasize the importance of having the home fans come out and support the team.

"We need people really hanging from the rafters," Odom said.

While hanging from the rafters at Faurout Field might prove difficult, Odom’s point was clear: the fans need to be there to make those five home games a real advantage.

Some or all of those five straight home games could be played with cloud of the NCAA sanctions still looming over them, as the appeal filed by Mizzou may not be completed until midway through the season. The coach isn’t dwelling on what he can’t control, however. After the initial shock rubbed off, Odom was quick to move on.

"You dust yourself off a little bit and say, 'Let's get going.' because any wasted time on that, does absolutely zero for what we need to go accomplish."

On the appeal, he seemed fairly optimistic but recognized it is a process and nothing is certain.

"We'll see how it goes," Odom said.

He also likes the place the team is at right now, saying, “I do feel strongly about the closeness of our team and the way that they have responded.” He cited that closeness in the staffs ability to speak openly and honestly to the team about the situation they’re in.

On a more positive note, the NFL Draft is fast approaching, and Odom has a number of players that could be drafted. The first that comes to mind is quarterback Drew Lock, though he’s not the only one who could hear their name called. He sees “six or so that have an opportunity to get drafted,” and more that have a chance to get into a camp.

He’s looking forward to the event, saying, "It will be fun to watch, although stressful for all, to see how that Thursday, Friday and Saturday go." On the team he has now and will coach in the future, he wants, “…all of our guys to aspire and dream to go play at the next level."

The Black and Gold game is Saturday, April 13th at 3pm.

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