The latest stop on the 2014 Mizzou Coaches Caravan found running back Marcus Murphy, Coach Pinkel, and Athletic Director Mike Alden, among others, in Mendon, Mo., where they shared a special night of food, fun, and fellowship with the Tiger Scholarship Fund Members.
Everyone was excited to have a visit from some of the key cogs from the Mizzou Football team — especially one youngster who was lucky enough to obtain an autograph from Murphy in a less-than-traditional manner.
“I hope I don’t get in trouble for this,” Murphy quipped in jest, as he penned his John Hancock on the kid’s polo.
Young Mizzou fan Kamden Ward was also ecstatic to see Murphy in Mendon on April 30.
“I see him on the field, and out of 75,000 fans I get to talk to him!” Ward exclaimed.
One fan raved about the food, in addition to the opportunity to see some of the stars behind Mizzou Football.
“The pork chops are hard to beat,” a satisfied Ed Manring said. “But I enjoyed being so close and listening to what the head coaches had to say.”
Fans weren’t the only ones thrilled to be in Mendon.
“It’s so exciting for us to be able to come to communities throughout Missouri and around the country, so that people can get the chance to see the reflection of our institution through quality students.” Alden said.
An infant found much comfort in Murphy’s arms, as the kick-returner posed for a smile with the sleeping child nestled closely against him.
Murphy not only enjoyed himself with the fans that night, but he also spoke of some personal priorities for the 2014 season.
“Coming into my senior year, I’ve been here five years,” he said. “So I’m just going to work on some leadership skills.”
He also explained what was really the determining factor that made him want to be a Mizzou Tiger.
“Missouri was the right place just because of the positive environment,” he said.
Pinkel took a few moments at the event to sit down and elaborate on some goals and aspirations for the team this year as well.
“We went through five or six straight years with first-round [NFL] picks now,” he said. “So we want to keep it going.”
Pinkel also stated how greatful he was that he is still the head coach of Mizzou, and therefore still has the opportunity to go out into the community and interact with fans via the Coaches Caravan.
“Thirteen years ago I met all of you folks. The average lifespan of a Division I football coach is [around] 1.2 years,” Pinkel said. “So I feel good that I’m still here.”
He also praised the renovations that the university is undertaking at Faurot Field.
“You see the stadium, east side up there…it’s awesome-looking, I’m just telling you!” said an enthusiastic Pinkel.
Amidst all the splendor of the night, the most telling moment was Murphy’s response to the question of what enters his mind as he awaits the football during its punt return free-fall.
“Run for my life!”