Watch: Missouri State football’s attack walks the field during spring training
Scenes from Missouri’s spring football practice on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at Blaster Stadium in Springfield.
White D. Wheeler, Springfield News Leader
The Missouri State Soccer held its first public practice of the season on Saturday with several returning faces that marked the Bears including the likes of Jason Shelley, Ty Scott and Montray Braswell.
There have been a few new faces emerging while getting reps from the Bears starter unit appearing as if they’ll be the team-makers once the season kicks off on September 1 in central Arkansas.
Some of these names will become fan favorites while others are still struggling to get their start once the season starts.
Here are seven names you should know after we watched Saturday’s training at Blaster Stadium:
more: 5 things about Missouri Football Media Day: talk of the game, new ‘special’ players
Jacardia Wright, back
If there’s one new player to be excited about heading into the new season, it’s Wright when he joins the Bears from Kansas State.
Wright’s size and strength stand out as a back that bears haven’t had for quite some time. He’ll add to the explosive attack that brings Shelley, the MSU quarterback, back to the back court with a handful of new weapons in a wide receiver.
more: Q&A with Missouri’s Bobby Petrino: Championship buzz, Arkansas return, live in Springfield
It looks like the Bears are going to use Wright a lot and there won’t be much time when he’s off the field. It is an amazingly fast capable receiver. It looks faster than it should be when you look at it.
Far from being excited about his powerful running style that would aid in attack, coaches are more excited about what he will unlock in the game play and movement. A large part of Saturday’s training was devoted to working only on the plays between attack and defense from the first series.
Jordan Jones, wide receiver
It appears that the top three wide receivers of the season will be Scott and Kevin Latulas of the hole and Jones as he moves to Missouri from Cincinnati.
Jones was impressive to the Bears through the spring, and that carried over into the fall as the No. 2 outfield receiver was behind Scott.
more: What Missouri State football coach Bobby Petrino said during Monday’s Valley media day
The 6-foot-2 appears to be a reliable road runner who knows how to use his large body to protect defenders. He has some speed to himself and he’s the one to get to know after Bears Xavier Lane graduates.
Tevita Fuimauno, goalkeeper
The competition for the primary left keeper is wide open and it was Fuimauno who got the reps with the starting unit on Saturday afternoon.
Recorded at 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds, Fuimaono got his start with the rookie when freshman Mark Hutchinson in a red shirt got the actors to perform during a short open training on the first day of camp. The other four positions look guaranteed with Shaun Fitzgerald in the driver’s seat to be the right guard and the other three positions relocated from last season.
Fuiamono is a junior transfer from Riverside City College (California) where the Bears also named starting center Ryan Suliafu. California Pipeline Goku handled the Bears well especially when it came to their offensive and defensive men.
Stetson Moore, Tight End
Petrino was raving about his new, tight end, saying he was unlike any receiver he’d had so far in Missouri. When you watch him train, you realize Petrino isn’t lying.
Moore is an impressive 6-foot-4, 250-pound target who moved to Michigan State University from Liberty. He only had one attacking reception in Hugh Fries last season, but this is a player who should have multiple touches in every game.
Speed relative to its size and arm length makes it a different type of weapon. Petrino quipped that Moore could be split into different locations and that Moore recently shielded Braswell, the all-American corner of MSU, in a red-zone catch exercise. If Wright isn’t the new player you’re offensively excited about, Moore probably is.
Caleb Blake, Back Corner
Blake, a Florida transfer who started his football career in Colorado State, was in the first corner kick against Braswell on Saturday as other players took turns. This is an open competition as it looks like Blake is the frontrunner of the week.
Blake is 6ft and has a previous relationship with defensive coordinator Ryan Bird that led him to MSU. He appeared in nine games with the Seminoles last season.
Lemondre Joe will remain in this conversation as well as CJ Crump’s move from East Carolina. Lots of traffic could be coming here over the next few weeks.
Dillon Thomas, safety
Thomas, a transfer from Northern Illinois, was rolling with freshmen with sophomore PJ Hall getting reps, too. Expect both of them to have time all season.
Thomas has the body you’d expect for a solid security who will often have to go in and do a high school treatment. You can often confuse him with a suitable full-back for a player who played a hybrid position between safety and full-back when he has emerged in the MAC in recent years.
He’s got a big boot to fill after Titus Wall has been too good for the Bears in recent years, and Wall now looks like a player who could be the Canadian Football League’s Rookie of the Year. Thomas has been a proven player in the previous stations and must be an influential player in the Bears.
Liam O’Reilly, The Return of the Boat
Not the newest name for Southwest Missouri readers, but O’Reilly is definitely in the midst of the race for a highly scrutinized pot return spot after costing the Bears games last season.
Scott, the MSU receiving star, was getting first-team delegates in the position but the coaching staff might want to put him out of harm’s way. Safety start, Kerik MacDonald played the position before but the Bears tried to remove him to give him extra rest and to try to prevent injury to one of the best players on the team. That might be the case here but it would be good to see if scott can be used.
O’Reilly has made taking kicks seem easy so far. We’ve come to know him over the years and confidence is not something he lacks when the loneliest situation is on the court. O’Reilly is older than the player we covered only last basketball season when he played for the Irish Catholic state team that qualified for the semi-finals.
One thing to keep in mind is that O’Reilly is just a real freshman and that’s a different level of pressure in the college game with taking kicks. Hunter Wood brought back the kicks as a freshman and we heard he was great during training but the toys turned out to be a different animal. We will continue to monitor how this happens.
Saturday’s first unit
- QB – Jason Shelley
- RB – Jacardia Wright
- WR – Ty Scott
- WR – Jordan Jones
- WR – Kevin Latulas
- TE – Stetson More
- TE – Gary Clinton
- LT – Landon Baby
- LG – Tevita Fuimauno
- C – Ryan Soliavo
- RG – Sean Fitzgerald
- RT – Ian Fitzgerald
- DE – Kevin Ellis
- DE – Devin Gorey
- DT – Tico Brown
- DT – Echina Ahombe
- LB – Feren Manulilua
- LB – Von Young
- LB – Spelling rooms
- CB – Montray Braswell
- CB – Caleb Blake
- CB – Aaron Harris
- S – Kerik MacDonald
- S – Dillon Thomas
White D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist for the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter at Tweet embed. He is also the co-host of Sports Talk on Jock Radio 7 days a week from 4 to 6 p.m.
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