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How Toriano Pride has made case to start in Missouri football’s secondary

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How Toriano Pride has made case to start in Missouri football’s secondary


Missouri football, as Tigers assistant Al Pogue put it, lost a lot of mileage at cornerback.

The Tigers are tasked with replacing two NFL-bound corners, Kris Abrams-Draine and Ennis Rakestraw Jr., from their 11-2, Cotton Bowl-winning 2023 team. That’s a combined eight seasons and 63 games of college ball leaving Columbia.

It’s not an easy ask for Mizzou to quickly replace that experience. But the 2024 squad appears, upon early indications, to be in good hands.

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Literally. 

During Missouri’s Black & Gold spring game Saturday on Faurot Field, St. Louis native and Clemson transfer Toriano Pride Jr., playing in front of MU fans for the first time, made a quick impression. 

In man coverage against eventual spring-game offensive MVP Joshua Manning, Pride went leaping for quarterback Brady Cook’s deep ball targeted at the receiver outside of the numbers on the left side of the field. The coverage was exemplary. Pride’s leaping frame completely blocked the view of Manning, who dragged the corner to the ground but did nothing to prevent what was done.

In his first taste of live football in front of fans on Faurot, Pride intercepted the pass — the two-handed, no-juggling, no-doubter variety of pick.

“They tried to go big fade ball to the field,” linebackers coach D.J. Smith said after the spring game, “(but) Toriano Pride’s a gamer, man. … It’s good to have him here.”

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Pride is the former teammate of star wide receiver Luther Burden III at East St. Louis High. He was the second-ranked prospect out of Illinois in the Class of 2022 — second behind Burden.

The Clemson transfer played 26 games over two seasons for Dabo Swinney’s team, making three starts. He has 36 total tackles, a couple of which for loss, and an interception to go along with nine pass breakups.

In a unit left wanting for game experience on the big stage, that’ll play.

And it more than likely will play with Missouri’s most experienced returning corner.

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More: The ‘training wheels’ are off for Missouri football’s WRs, who want to be best in the country

Before spring camp started, MU head coach Eli Drinkwitz indicated that Missouri’s other starting cornerback was going to be tough to usurp.

Dreyden Norwood, a former Texas A&M transfer and now third-year Tiger, was the man to beat. He filled in for an oft-injured Rakestraw admirably, starting in the Tigers’ Cotton Bowl win over Ohio State and four times before then. He has now made 25 total appearances for MU.

“I think we would all be kidding ourselves,” Drinkwitz said, “if we didn’t believe that Dreyden Norwood was ahead of everybody else.”

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There aren’t many indications that anything changed on that front through the practices that shaped spring camp.

“I’ve been really pleased with Drey’s growth,” Pogue said. … “He’s just letting his natural ability come through and (making) plays, and I think the biggest thing for him is, you know, you can see the confidence. He has the confidence that he can compete in this league.”

Added new MU defensive coordinator Corey Batoon on March 9: “The Norwood kid’s had a really good camp. He’s made some plays on the ball, he’s been very consistent. I think that on the back end, he’s really stood out.”

The Tigers ran with Norwood and Pride, on different teams due to the nature of the Tigers’ pre-spring game intrasquad draft, on their respective lineups right out of the gate Saturday. Shamar McNeil, Marcus Clarke, Ja’Mariyon Wayne and Nicholas Deloach were among the corners to see the field.

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Those four, along with true freshman Cameron Keys and summer enrollee Jaren Sensabaugh, will likely shape up the fight for time behind Norwood and Pride.

More: Will Missouri football running backs go by committee? Coach compares transfers to former duo

Clarke has played 15 games over two seasons since transferring from Miami shortly before the 2022 campaign started. He had two interceptions in a reserve role last season, against Memphis and at Kentucky, but Pogue said he wants the room’s oldest corner to be more consistent.

Pogue mentioned that he recently met with McNeil, a redshirt freshman who drew compliments from both Rakestraw and Abrams-Draine in 2023 as a true freshman, and said he’s seen some day-to-day improvement, but that the underclassman is “not where I want him to be.”

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The cornerbacks coach indicated that wide receiver turned cornerback Ja’Mariyon Wayne also will have a role in the future.

“One day it’s gonna be his time, I’m gonna drop the leash on him,” Pogue said, “and say, ‘I told you guys.’”

For now, Norwood is the most likely lock for a starting role when MU opens its 2024 campaign Aug. 31 against Murray State.

Across from him, Pride, with a quick Faurot pick, has emerged as the frontrunner.

“It was really big to acquire a player like (Pride),” Pogue said. … “It’s evident we have to replace two really good players that we’ve currently lost, and for him to come in and have that experience, … it was really big for us to get him. I mean, he’s definitely a plus to our room.”

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New Missouri athletic director Laird Veatch has contract approved. Here are the details

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New Missouri athletic director Laird Veatch has contract approved. Here are the details


That’s that.

The UM System Board of Curators officially approved the contract of new Missouri athletic director Laird Veatch during a special meeting on Wednesday afternoon, a university spokesperson confirmed to the Columbia Daily Tribune.

The curators quickly went into an executive session in their 3 p.m. meeting, with four statutes cited to take the meeting behind closed doors. One of them — 610.021(3) RSMo — concerns “hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting of particular employees by a public governmental body.”

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Guess who?

Veatch is now officially Missouri’s athletic director.

Here are the details of his five-year contract, provided in a memorandum of understanding signed Tuesday, April 23, and sent to the Columbia Daily Tribune by a university spokesperson.

What is Missouri athletic director Laird Veatch’s salary?

Laird Veatch will earn $1.3 million dollars in annual guaranteed compensation at Missouri. His deal is due to end April 30, 2029.

His deal is broken down into three parts: Base salary ($900,000 per year); Non-Salary compensation ($200,000); and deferred compensation ($200,000).

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Both his base salary and non-salary compensation will be paid in equal monthly installments. His deferred compensation will be paid annually.

Veatch’s deal also includes several merit incentives.

The new Missouri athletic director can earn $50,000 if Missouri wins an SEC football title, and can add another $50,000 if Eli Drinkwitz’s team claims a national championship.

For men’s basketball, Veatch is awarded $10,000 if Dennis Gates’ Missouri team wins an SEC title; a further $15,000 if the Tigers make the Final Four; and an additional $25,000 if they take home a national title.

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If Missouri student-athletes graduate at a 90% combined success rate across all sports, Veatch makes $25,000. If Veatch reaches “philanthropy, ticket sales and other revenue generation targets set annually” by UM System President Mun Choi, Veatch earns $75,000. Those targets are currently unknown.

Before leaving for the open AD role at Arizona, former Missouri athletic director Desireé Reed Francois signed a contract extension with Missouri in April 2023 that saw her total compensation jump to $1.25 million annually. Her Missouri annual contract was broken down as $900,000 in base salary; $350,000 in non-salary compensation; and $250,000 in deferred compensation. She was only eligible to receive the deferred compensation at the end of her deal.

Veatch is Missouri’s fourth athletic director in the past nine years. The university also put in a clause that makes sure it isn’t searching for No. 5 any time soon.

The contract states that “the AD recognizes that their promise to work for the University for the entire term is important to the University, and that the nature of their position is unique.”

On that note, the contract also stipulates that should Veatch choose to terminate his deal without cause, he will pay the university 50% of his cumulative base salary plus whatever he would have been paid in non-salary compensation.

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That means, if he leaves for another job with, for example, one year remaining on his deal, he would owe $450,000 (half of his base salary) plus $200,000 in non-salary compensation for a total of $650,000 in liquidated damages. The cost of leaving Missouri begins at about $3.25 million and falls each year for Missouri’s new AD.

On the flip side, and very similarly, if Missouri terminates Veatch’s contract without cause, the university owes Veatch half of his annual base salary plus the full amount he would have received in non-salary compensation. Veatch also would be paid whatever he had accrued in deferred compensation. That means his buyout begins at approximately $1.65 million, which will fall with each passing year.

What’s next for Veatch?

Veatch, who MU hired away after a near-five-year stint at Memphis, could be introduced to the public as soon as Friday. His official start date is May 1.

More: 3 questions facing new Missouri athletic director Laird Veatch on Day 1

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The new head of the Missouri athletic department returns for a second stint in Columbia, after serving in various roles for MU in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At Missouri, Veatch held titles such as assistant AD for development; director of athletics development for major giving; and director of annual giving and development coordinator. He also worked for Learfield Sports, managing Mizzou Sports Properties between 2003-06.

Veatch is a former Kansas State linebacker and team captain under Hall of Fame head coach Bill Snyder. The new Missouri AD has worked in athletic departments at Memphis, Florida, Iowa State, Texas and his alma mater K-State.

The university formed an 11-person search committee and hired the search firm TurnKey ZRG to find its next AD.

Veatch will undertake a $250 million redevelopment to the Memorial Stadium north concourse, with the athletic department poised to foot half of that bill and a considerable chunk of those funds still needing to be raised.

The Missouri football team itself, however, appears to be in its most stable position in a decade. The Tigers went 11-2 last season, a year that culminated in a Cotton Bowl victory over Ohio State, before extending Drinkwitz through the 2028 season.

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In Mizzou Arena, Gates and the men’s basketball team are coming off a historically poor season with a historically successful recruiting performance. The Tigers have one of the nation’s top transfer classes and will bring the country’s No. 4 high school class to Columbia this summer. Veatch likely will face questions about MU women’s basketball coach Robin Pingeton, who has entered the final year of her contract.

More: 5 things to know about new Missouri athletic director Laird Veatch



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Jerry Nelson: Missouri Meanderings

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Jerry Nelson: Missouri Meanderings


Missouri is the Show Me State, so when my wife and I recently visited Kansas City we decided to see what Missouri had to show us.

We pointed our car at Springfield, the third most populous city in Missouri. Upon arriving at our hotel, we were told that our room wouldn’t be ready for several hours. All I can say about this is that my wife is the type of person who believes that if you aren’t early, you’re late.

We asked the clerk if there was anything that one could do in Springfield for a few hours, and she immediately recommended a visit to the Bass Pro Shops.

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This sounded as good as anything, so we decided to give it a whirl. The Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World Ultimate Fishing Boat Outlet And Super-duper Hunting Gear Emporium occupies about 80 acres. Some of that is parking lot, but a good share of it is a ginormous building.

Walking into the store, my nose was instantly drawn to a particular aroma. They had a coffee shop! It had been at least ten minutes since my last jolt of java, so my wife and I purchased some hot liquid refreshments, sat on a bench and people watched.

We spotted several Exhausted Toddler Parent roadrunners and some prime examples of Fanatic Angler kingfishers. There was also a good number of Please Honey, I Really Need This Boat warblers.

The establishment proved to be as much of a museum as a retail outlet. I viewed numerous epically large game animals that had been stuffed and mounted and placed in epic poses. This included the mythical 30-point buck that was romanticized in the classic hunting tune “Da Turdy Point Buck” by the talented ensemble Bananas At Large.

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We walked past a concrete enclosure that contained a small pond and what was, allegedly, a live alligator. I say “allegedly” because the creature didn’t move at all during the several minutes that we observed it. Perhaps dealing with all those allegations had worn out the alligator.

An escalator lofted visitors up to the entrance of an aquarium that boasted penguins as its main attraction. Admission was $42 per head which, with taxes and penguin perusing surcharges, would put a big hole in a Benjamin Franklin. We decided that penguins are cute, but not $100 worth of cute.

The next day we motored southeastward toward Poplar Bluff. The Ozarks rolled past our windows, wooded hills punctuated by small towns and an occasional farmstead. The landscape would sometimes open up to reveal an idyllic emerald valley where cows grazed peacefully in their leisurely, cow-like manner. It looked like heaven on toast.

I’m a farm boy from the prairie, so I couldn’t help but wonder why the flatlands weren’t being farmed. The answer could be seen in the roadcuts, which revealed limestone bedrock covered with a thin veneer of grayish topsoil. A guy would bust his plow if he tried to plow it.

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Speaking of mythical creatures, we saw several bumper stickers that featured a bigfoot silhouette. I wasn’t sure what the message might be. Was the car’s owner proud of his family’s sasquatch? Or was he an Uber driver who was open to giving rides to bigfoots?

There is certainly plenty of forest where bigfoot could hide. I personally don’t believe in sasquatches, but then again, I have never been subjected to the eerie hoots and yawps that allegedly arise from midnight Missouri woodlands.

I notched a personal “first” during our drive when I espied a deceased armadillo at the roadside. Sadly, my wife wouldn’t let me stop and claim this trophy.

After viewing the solar eclipse at Poplar Bluff – one of the most memorable parts was seeing hundreds of miniature crescent suns projected onto the ground beneath the trees – we decided to head back to Kansas City. We didn’t realize until too late that approximately a million other motorists had the same idea.

We live in a low-population area. Our version of a traffic jam is when there are two cars ahead of us at a stop sign.

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After weaving our way out of town, we hit the open road. Things went swimmingly for a few miles, but then traffic ground to a halt. Probably just some minor snag up ahead. Wrong!

The view out our windshield revealed a river of vehicles that stretched as far as the eye could see. This was a “first” that I would rather have missed.

As we crept along – sometimes attaining a heady 15 MPH – I closely watched the roadside for my armadillo.

Alas, he was nowhere to be seen. Maybe a bigfoot beat me to it. 

If you’d like to contact Jerry Nelson to do some public speaking, or just to register your comments, you can email him at jjpcnels@itctel.com. His book, “Dear County Agent Guy,” is available at Workman.com and at booksellers everywhere. 

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Mizzou baseball completes season sweep of Missouri State

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Mizzou baseball completes season sweep of Missouri State





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