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

Dwight Howard: ‘I have not asked the Rockets to trade me’

Nazem Kadri fined $5,000 for throat-slashing gesture

Hassan Whiteside suspended one game for elbowing Boban Marjanovic

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has torn labrum

Report: Antonio Tarver suspended six months, fined $50,000 for positive test

Texans owner wants team to draft a top quarterback

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Subban undergoes larynx surgery, out at least eight weeks

Report: Raiders staying in Oakland for 2016 season

Cavaliers showing trade interest in Kings’ Ben McLemore

Report: Rockets shopping Dwight Howard

Jim Fassel takes issue with Cam Newton's warmup MVP cleats

Report: NFL upholds Vontaze Burfict’s three-game suspension

Justin Tuck will sign one-day contract to retire with Giants

Ronda Rousey returns to training

Von Miller likely to get franchise tag from Broncos

Barry J. Sanders transferring to Oklahoma State

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

USWNT start Olympic qualification in style by scoring in first 12 seconds

Magic Johnson wants Peyton Manning to join Rams

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

Franchise tag has been a useful tool for John Elway, Broncos

The 16 best NBA All-Star Game sneakers ever

Eight most potentially combustible MLB clubhouses

Matt Barnes coyly denies IG post was shot at Derek Fisher

NHLers who should be dealt to contenders before deadline

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

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

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