Missouri football bowl practice notebook

As we reported on Saturday, the Missouri football team began practicing again on Friday and continued through Sunday. It will take a four-day break for finals before starting up again next Friday.

Sheldon Richardson dodges draft

On Friday I asked defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson if he had decided whether or not to declare for the NFL draft. In his first year at Missouri, the junior transfer was named All-Big 12 honorable mention. Earlier in the season Richardson had said he would return to Missouri for his senior season because he felt he had not accomplished anything yet. Recently, though, he made comments on Facebook suggesting otherwise.

“I’m just focusing on the bowl game,” Richardson said.

Richardson, ranked nationally as the No. 1 defensive tackle coming out of high school in the spring of 2009, said he expects to return to Missouri unless his draft status improves.

“Unless they tell me I’m coming back to the first round, right now, I don’t think so,” he said.

Richardson said he was also focused on finishing his semester strong academically, and that his grades looked good going into finals week.

“I’m solid, I don’t even need to take (my finals),” he said with a smile. “If I don’t take them I’ll still pass.”

So… are you going to take them, Sheldon?

“Yeah, I’m going to take them,” he said.

Will Ebner stayed by Henry Josey’s side

According to head coach Gary Pinkel, linebacker Will Ebner spent multiple nights after Henry Josey’s season-ending knee surgery by the running back’s bedside.

“That was emotionally draining to me after 45 minutes, let alone sitting there all night,” Pinkel said. “(Ebner) was caring for him, doing anything he could. He got a nurse if (Josey) needed one.”

One day while Pinkel was visiting, he saw Ebner put the salt, pepper and ketchup on Josey’s food. The coach was struck by the scene.

“We’ve got a real tight group of people around here, but that was a statement beyond statement for people caring for each other,” Pinkel said. “It certainly says a tremendous amount about Will Ebner and the kind of person that he is.”

Pinkel reacts to tight end’s transfer to basketball court

Backup tight end Andrew Jones entered his first Missouri basketball game on Saturday in the final minute against Navy. He earned one personal foul.

“I think that was his goal,” Pinkel joked after practice on Sunday. “And he didn’t shoot, thank goodness.”

Pinkel said Jones, a senior, approached him a few weeks ago to ask about playing for the basketball team. Basketball coach Frank Haith also called Pinkel, and Pinkel told Haith he did not mind if Jones played in both practice and games.

“They thought we didn’t want him to play in any games but I told them that if he practices and you wan to play him in the game, you certainly can,” Pinkel said. “It’s neat to see him get involved with that and help the basketball team in his own way. He’s a great leader, he loves Mizzou, and he feels he can make a contribution.”

Injury update

On Friday, Pinkel said Kip Edwards had “tweaked” his ankle doing separate, individual workouts. After Sunday’s practice, Pinkel said he expects Edwards to be “100 percent” for the bowl game. He also said that defensive back Cortland Browning cut his toe and missed Saturday’s practice but was back practicing on Sunday.

Starters Travis Ruth (ankle) and Brad Madison (knee and shoulder) donned red pinnies and sat out of some drills.

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