Pinkel calls LT Justin Britt “the guy”–the undisputed replacement to injured LT Elvis Fisher

After the injury to LT Elvis Fisher, redshirt sophomore Justin Britt ran with the first team offense at Mizzou practice in the Devine Pavillion, August 13, 2011. (Photo by Nick Gerhardt)

Sorry freshmen; Gary Pinkel and the Mizzou Tigers elected to take the experienced option to fill the spot vacated by pre-season All-Big 12 left tackle Elvis Fisher. Justin Britt, a redshirt sophomore from Lebanon, Mo., entered the season listed at left guard behind senior Jayson Palmgren. When the season begins, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the two will be playing side-by-side.

“[The coaching staff] thought next year we were going to move [Britt] to tackle anyway,” head coach Gary Pinkel said.

“This just speeds it up a year. He’s a very good athlete, and he’s a very smart guy. He’s got a lot going for him,” Pinkel said.

He weighs in at precisely the same height and poundage as Mr. Fisher–6-foot-5, 295 pounds. Britt played in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman. When asked to describe the new starter, co-coach of the offensive line Bruce Walker had high expectations.

“He’s a tall athletic kid who can move his feet, and when he gets better with his hands, he’s going to be a [butt] kicker.”

In one-on-one drills against the defensive line, Britt stayed in front of his man. He reacted quickly when redshirt sophomore DE Michael Sam tried to spin and swim past Britt. And although the young starter rarely allowed the defender inside leverage, he occasionally comitted what would likely be a holding penalty in an official game, even pulling redshirt sophomore Brayden Burnett down to the ground by his jersey when he beat Britt to the inside.

Britt called his new spot the toughest position he’s ever played.

“[The left tackle position is] a big, big deal. The quarterback doesn’t see [the defender on the left side] and you have to have the ability to get back. It’s a lot harder than playing any other position on the line.”

Britt, who described himself as “tough” had an altercation with redshirt freshman DE Kony Ealy during Saturday’s scrimmage. The coaching staff asked both players, along with several others, to stay after practice for extra conditioning as punishment.

“As I run these punishment gassers, it wasn’t worth it. Both of us know that. The whole team is smart enough not to do that stuff in a game, but here in the  scrimmage, it’s just a different mindset. Tempers are rising when you’re going against the same player over and over.”

Pinkel and Walker each professed to have a high level of confidence in what the young player can do.

“He has game experience; he knows what it’s like to be under the lights, so I’m not worried about Justin Britt. He’ll go out there and perform really well,” Walker said.

“He’s the guy. No question,” Pinkel said.

Will the offensive line carry on as if Elvis never left? Probably not–but Britt doesn’t expect that to happen.

“I’ve got big shoes to fill, but at the same time, I have my own shoes to bring in. Elvis is Elvis, and I can’t be Elvis,” Britt said.

Elvis Fisher will have surgery today at 3:00 this afternoon, according to Pinkel. Other offensive lineman who have impressed the coaches so far, outside the starting five, include Jack Meiners and Mark Hill. If the injury bug bites again, those may be names you want to know.

Follow us on Twitter at @kbiasportsextra. 

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