Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City
By ASSOCIATED PRESS  |  Last updated 9/5/13
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) After cutting a 51-yard path through Murray State's defense, Russell Hansbrough wanted to play it cool. He exchanged a few hugs with teammates in the end zone, then jogged back to the sideline to receive some more. He had scored only his second career touchdown, but there was no need for theatrics -- his first score had come just three minutes earlier. That's not to say he didn't want to celebrate. "I was just really happy," the Missouri running back said. "It was a monkey off my back." Hansbrough rushed eight times for 104 yards and was essentially done by halftime, a sign of his new role with the Tigers (1-0). Talking to him, one can sense his optimism for the season ahead, borne from an eagerness to move on from a haphazard freshman year in which his confidence admittedly wavered. Having added some brawn this past offseason, Hansbrough is listed at 5 feet 9, 190 pounds, nearly identical to teammates Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy. Their similar stature and background -- all three are from Texas -- persuaded Hansbrough to switch his commitment from Arizona State to Missouri after the Sun Devils fired coach Dennis Erickson following the 2011 season. "Like I told him, 'Boy, you look like a younger me when I first got here,'" Josey said. But all was not rosy for Hansbrough in his first season. He rushed 37 times for 136 yards, only 32 more than he gained in Saturday's opener alone. His most notable play was one he'd rather forget, one that he says still motivates him today. With less than three minutes left in a 42-10 loss to Alabama, a defender picked Hansbrough clean off the turf and threw him onto the ground back first. Officials whistled LaMichael Fanning for unsportsmanlike conduct, but that mattered little to Hansbrough, who stayed in the game. "No one wants that to happen to them," he said. Nevertheless, Hansbrough is thankful he didn't redshirt, as he got a chance to experience the pace of play in the Southeastern Conference. He still works with coaches on blocking for pass protection and understanding various offensive schemes, but he says he's come a long way. "The experience of being in the arena and getting out and playing, it's something that every player has to go through," coach Gary Pinkel said. "So often here -- we can list the athletes since we've been here -- all of a sudden they play pretty good, all of a sudden the same athlete the next year is playing at a whole different level." Now a sophomore, Hansbrough is part of a three-man tailback rotation for Missouri in its second year in the SEC. But while Josey is known for an All-Big 12 season in 2011 and Murphy for returning a school-record four kicks for touchdowns last year, the spotlight has yet to reach Hansbrough. And he's perfectly OK with that, saying he'd rather concentrate on helping the team in any way he can. "I think there's a side of Russell that he doesn't really show to anybody," running backs coach Brian Jones said. "Russell, yeah, he is a quiet guy. Around us, he's actually, 'Yes, sir. No, sir.' Very respectful. He's a joy to have and I think he's got a really bright future. He really does." The Tigers rushed for 358 yards against Murray State, but now look to maintain the momentum against Toledo (0-1) and later in the SEC, where they finished tied for 13th in rushing yards per game and tied for last in yards per carry last year. Having three healthy tailbacks, including Hansbrough, will help. "I'm really excited for him and I hope he keeps pushing me like he has done," Josey said. "I told him we've got a great tandem going together. It's just going to be a great year for us."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Teams believe Browns somehow will get Trubisky

JJ Watt offers to help pay Rockets owner’s fine

WATCH: Birthday boy Aaron Judge homers and makes spectacular catch at Fenway

Predators rookie Kevin Fiala carted off and hospitalized after gruesome collision

Warriors invite members of ‘We Believe’ team to playoff game

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Emails suggest no foul play in Eli Manning memorabilia case

Report: Adrian Beltre not close to return to Rangers

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander fined $100,000 for confronting official

Pirates call up Gift Ngoepe, first MLB player from African continent

Genie Bouchard: Maria Sharapova is ‘cheater,’ should be banned for life

Browns’ Joe Thomas: ‘I’m already seeing memory loss’

Marshawn Lynch gives an already-spurned city hometown appeal

The 'Bonehead blunder that watered down the 1931 AL home run crown' quiz

Draft prospects we're most excited to see in the NFL

Stanley Cup Playoffs: The West is full of surprises

Box Score 4/26: NFL Draft eve

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'QB or not QB? That is the question' quiz

How the Astros are following the Cubs' blueprint to the top

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Paul Millsap needs a twin phone

Perfect matches: Handpicking players for certain teams in the 2017 NFL Draft

NFL Draft do-overs we'd most like to see

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Marshawn Lynch gives an already-spurned city hometown appeal

The 'Bonehead blunder that watered down the 1931 AL home run crown' quiz

Draft prospects we're most excited to see in the NFL

Stanley Cup Playoffs: The West is full of surprises

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

How the Astros are following the Cubs' blueprint to the top

The 'QB or not QB? That is the question' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Paul Millsap needs a twin phone

Perfect matches: Handpicking players for certain teams in the 2017 NFL Draft

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker