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Mizzou Morning Matters

092223_Mizzou Morning Matters

In case you missed last week’s newsletter, we do Mizzou storytelling here — and it’s hard to find a better story around Mizzou football right now than Cody Schrader.

First, though, if you want to receive this free Mizzou newsletter in your email inbox each week subscribe here and and look for the link each Friday

Back to Cody. We all know his origin story by now: Ignored by Division I programs as a high school standout in St. Louis, Cody became a prolific running back at the Division II level at Truman State. Last year he transferred to Mizzou as a walk-on, climbed the depth chart from sixth-string to starter, earned a scholarship plus immeasurable respect and, this offseason, his teammates’ faith as a team captain.

Fairytale stuff, right?

It’s only getting better for Schrader. In his sixth year of college football, at the season’s one-month marker, he leads the Southeastern Conference in rushing.

Not a misprint.

With 403 yards through the season’s first month, Schrader ranks No. 14 nationally in rushing and No. 8 among Power Five backs. He also leads the SEC in carries (65) and rushing first downs (19) and averages a robust 7.2 yards per carry on first down. He’s both a workhorse back and a big-play threat: Only one SEC player has more 20-yard runs from scrimmage than Schrader’s four. That’s the same number of 20-yard runs he had all of last season in 13 games.

Schrader vs South Dakota

For the second time this season, Schrader, 23, rushed for triple digits Saturday in St. Louis, leading the Tigers with 123 yards in the 34-27 win over Memphis in his hometown. Schrader didn’t let a costly first-half fumble spoil his homecoming: His 37-yard touchdown run in the final minutes all but clinched the victory.

“I definitely did not play well in the first half, and the offensive line and everybody was blocking really well,” Schrader told me this week. “Looking back at it, I was letting the moment get too big. I faced adversity with that fumble. … A lot of coaches may just say, ‘OK, you fumbled. Now you’re done.’ But those guys have a ton of faith and trust in me, and I think that’s huge for my confidence, especially facing that type of adversity. When you’ve got a team that has your back like that, it’s something truly special.”

When Schrader woke up Sunday, he was leading the SEC in rushing — with 51 more yards than the league’s second-leading rusher.

If Schrader could travel back five years and tell his 18-year-old self he’d one day lead the SEC in rushing, would he believe?

“No, never,” he said. “I was just talking to my friends that were with me at Truman and how we used to watch big college football games, SEC teams and stuff like that. They felt larger than life. When you’re watching and you’re not playing in the SEC or big Power Five football, it feels like the players are just larger than life. It feels like the game is larger than what you’re playing. Just really thinking about it, it’s a dream come true to even to have this opportunity.”

(And it’s not like Mizzou lacks a capable running mate in the backfield. Nathaniel Peat‘s 186 rushing yards are more than the team leader at 15 Power Five programs, including nationally ranked Georgia, Oklahoma, Washington and Washington State.)

Not to go all Ted Lasso on you, but Cody’s story is about more than yards and touchdowns. It’s about belief — not that he’d lead the league in rushing but that he could find a role and compete on an SEC roster. In high school he was named conference player of the year as a sophomore, junior and senior and finished his career at Lutheran South High School as the program’s career leader for rushing yards, touchdowns, total offense AND tackles. Still, recruiters all but dismissed the 5-foot-9 prospect. At Truman, he rushed for a Division II-best 2,074 yards as a junior in 2021 and never stopped believing he could produce on the game’s biggest stage. That’s why he took that leap of faith last year and left Kirksville for Columbia. Where does that belief come from?

“It’s always just been inside of me,” he said. “I’ve always been, I guess you would say an underdog, overlooked or whatever it is. But I’ve always had a belief in myself because of the way I work. My parents weren’t high-level athletes growing up … I give my dad (grief) about it all the time, like, ‘Where did my athletic ability come from?’ But I truly believe it came from my work ethic. I really had to dive into that when I was younger at Truman State to get to this level. And I still am that same way.”

“The hardest worker in the room is what he strives for because he wants to leave no doubt that what he is doing is not a fluke,” former Lutheran South head coach Jameson Allen said this week. “I truly believe he has believed in himself so much that this is part of his plan. He used to tell me he is going to prove to the world that he is worthy of being a Division I running back — and he has never shown me any different. 

“I am and will always be his biggest fan. Love him to death.”

That belief took shape much earlier than college. Cody started playing football in seventh grade when his family lived in De Soto, Missouri. All he wanted to do was run the ball. One problem: He was one of the biggest kids in the league at 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds. The youth league instituted a weight limit for ball-carriers. The Cody Rule.

“So I had go play offensive line,” he said.

Right guard to be exact. Those days didn’t last long. He switched to a new league and eventually found his home in the backfield.

“That feeling when you score a touchdown, it’s like no other,” he said. “I was addicted to it.”

When he arrived at Mizzou in January of 2022, Schrader plotted a path to get noticed. It started every morning. Early.

“Where I put my focus was if I can dominate on special teams and put it on film, then I can gain the coaches’ trust and respect,” he said. “And then especially in the weight room. I remember when I first got here I was (in the weight room) every day at 5 a.m. and worked out at 6. I think that’s a huge part for kids walking on or who are seventh on the depth chart. Build trust and respect with the strength coaches and special teams coordinator and that will open up opportunities on the offensive or defensive side of the ball.”

Over time, Schrader gained believers. Running backs coach Curtis Luper. Head coach Eli Drinkwitz. His quarterback, too.

“It was funny because me and Brady Cook actually talked about it,” Schrader said. “Rushing for 2,000 yards (at Truman State) gave me some level of respect that I wasn’t just a scrub or … just chasing a dream. I think having success and having some stuff to back my resume up really helped me get in the door. Like, ‘Hey let’s see what this kid has.'”

This offseason, Schrader worked to sharpen his burst and short-area quickness. A year ago, he mostly relied on his natural instincts to slug through defenses between the tackles. But one play late in Saturday’s win embodied the work he put in this summer. On Mizzou’s first series of the fourth quarter, he took a handoff deep in MU territory, dodged a diving lineman in the backfield, then shimmied his shoulders to avoid a defensive back barreling out of the secondary — all part of a 23-yard run to ignite a late scoring drive.

“Last year was just a really big growing year for me,” he said. “And now I think being in my second year in the SEC, the game has slowed down. I’m seeing holes better. When I get out in space, I can make things happen. The main part of my game is downhill running. That will always be my strength. But I do have that elusiveness when I can get out in open space.”

He believes. Coaches and teammates, too. How about you?

More Football!

This week’s Mini Movie from the Week 3 victory over Memphis.

Watch Coach Drinkwitz’s weekly press conference

Listen to Tuesday’s episode of “Tiger Talk” featuring Coach Drinkwitz, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach D.J. Smith and cornerback Kris Abrams-Draine.

On the Rise

From the first time she stepped on the Hearnes Center volleyball court as a visiting player in the 1990s, Dawn Sullivan realized there was something unique about Mizzou.

“I remember being so nervous with the VolleyZOU behind you and screaming,” Sullivan recalled this week. “It’s an incredible, incredible environment.”

Sullivan appreciates that support even more now that she’s settling into her first season as Mizzou’s head coach following a five-year run at Nevada-Las Vegas. Heading into this weekend’s road voyage to LSU (Friday, 7:30 p.m.) and Texas A&M (Sunday, 3 p.m.), Sullivan’s Tigers are 9-4 with a 1-1 mark in SEC play, earning their first conference victory Sunday against South Carolina. That means Mizzou has already matched last year’s win total, but with Sullivan’s deep ties to the Midwest and MU’s past — the Minnesota native played at Kansas State and spent 13 years as an Iowa State assistant — she understands the standards and expectations at her new program. Since joining the SEC in 2012, Mizzou has captured two team conference championships, both in volleyball (2013, 2016) under former coaches Susan and Wayne Kreklow.

Mizzou Volleyball vs South Carolina on September 24, 2023 in the Hearnes Center. (Photo by Reesi Nesbitt)

That proven championship pedigree was a major draw for Sullivan when she left UNLV for Mizzou last December. She’s leaned on the Kreklows for insight since moving to Columbia, hoping to learn what steps helped lead the program to prominence.

“It never just happens, right?” she said. “There’s always a lot of work behind the scenes that make that happen. It can happen here. And the fans will support it. And I think that’s what makes it really special.”

So is her relationship with Mizzou athletics director Desireé Reed-Francois, who’s now hired Sullivan twice, once at UNLV in 2018 and again last winter. On Wednesday, Reed-Francois visited Mizzou’s practice to give Sullivan a decorated game ball from her first MU victory over Illinois State on August 25.

“Having a female athletic director that’s willing to challenge, push and lift all at the same time is pretty incredible,” Sullivan said.

“She doesn’t just settle for mediocracy, and that’s really important to me,” she added. “But also she’s a learner. She wants to continue to learn and wants the people around her to learn. The way she mentors and gives information, I really appreciate that piece. She steps in every single day and holds people accountable. … She values what every sport does. And that piece for me is huge. It just makes me and my team feel valued as well. It makes you want to come to work every day. It makes you want to continue to excel.”

In the Community

Each week we like to highlight a Mizzou student-athlete making a difference in their community. Skylar Ciccolini, a javelin specialist on the women’s track and field team, has organized a shoe drive for Turning Point of Columbia, a homeless day center here in town. Ciccolini’s charity drive is collecting gently used shoes in the Mizzou Athletic Training Center through next week.

“The shoe drive is important to me because as athletes, we are provided with so much to succeed at what we do, but I think it is equally important to share what we have been given with others,” Ciccolini said. “Turning Point is dedicated to restoring the hope and dignity of those in the community that are unsheltered. ‘Someone Else’s Shoes’ is simply an opportunity for Mizzou athletes to support their community by giving out of the overflow of what we have been given.”

Mizzou Tigers NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, OR. on Thursday, June 10, 2021.Hunter Dyke/Mizzou Athletics

Tiger Trivia

Find answers at the end of today’s newsletter:

1. Cook has attempted 306 consecutive passes without an interception, just 19 short of the SEC’s all-time record. What was Mizzou’s previous record for consecutive passes without an INT before Cook broke it this year?

2. Who was U.S. president when Mizzou and Vanderbilt first played against each other in football?

3. Mizzou and Vanderbilt are two of seven programs in the Power Five conferences with official school colors of black and gold. Name the other five. (The official shades of gold differ from program to program.

Matter’s Weekly Power Rankings

Each week we’ll highlight the Best of Mizzou with a different theme. This week: Mizzou’s best football conference openers over the last 50 years spanning the Big Eight, Big 12 and SEC.

1. No. 17 Mizzou 41, No. 25 Nebraska 6 (Oct. 6, 2007): Four years after the Tigers ended a lengthy losing streak to the Cornhuskers, Gary Pinkel‘s team dominated Nebraska to open Big 12 play in what became a historic season. Mizzou poured it on late with a fake field goal TD pass by Tommy Saunders to Martin Rucker.

2. No. 4 Mizzou 52, Nebraska 17 (Oct. 4, 2008): A year later, Mizzou won in Lincoln for the first time in 30 years, thrashing what became a nine-win Nebraska team.

3. No. 25 Mizzou 41, Kansas 23 (Sept. 12, 1998): Tailback Devin West shattered Mizzou’s single-game rushing record with 319 yards in the second week of his All-American senior season.

4. Mizzou 21, No. 13 South Carolina 20 (Sept. 27, 2014): It wasn’t pretty, but a couple Russell Hansbrough touchdown runs in the fourth quarter in Columbia, South Carolina, upended the Gamecocks and set the tone for Mizzou’s second straight run to the SEC East title.

5. No. 12 Mizzou 13, No. 2 Nebraska 12 (Oct. 13, 1973): A year after the Huskers throttled Mizzou 62-0, the Tigers dealt Tom Osborne’s team one of its two losses in the Big Eight opener.

Mizzou Musings

Fist bumps to the folks who manage Mizzou’s Tiger Scholarship Fund: Donor membership soared to 11,000 this past week — already surpassing the 2023 goal of 10,000. … With next week’s football game against LSU sold out, that marks the first time since 2014 Mizzou has sold out multiple home games. Only a limited number of reserve seats remain on sale for the Homecoming game against South Carolina (Oct. 21), but reserve seats are already sold out for Tennessee (Nov. 11) with limited Hill tickets available. … There’s plenty of soccer left, but Mizzou’s Kylee Simmons continues to push for SEC honors: When the week began she led the SEC in points (20), goals (nine) and points per game (2.0). … Most interesting comment in Saturday’s postgame interviews in St. Louis: Luther Burden III is starting to find his voice in the locker room. “That’s something you guys don’t get to see but we get to see,” Schrader told the media after the Memphis game. “He’s an incredible athlete, but now he’s developing into a true leader on this offense. And that’s one of the reasons our offense is starting to click.”  … Through four games, Burden has 14 receptions that have covered 15 yards of more; he had all of seven in 13 games last season. He had only two catches for 25 yards or more last fall. This year? Try seven. … Expect a bigger, better event when Mizzou Madness returns to The Quad in front of The Columns next Friday (Oct. 6) with a projected 9 p.m. start. Practices for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams tipped off this week. 

Looking Ahead

Saturday, Sept. 30

Tennis at Baylor Invite (Waco, Texas)

Football at Vanderbilt, 3 p.m., SEC Network (Nashville, Tennessee)

Softball at Kansas City, 12 p.m.; vs. Missouri State, 3 p.m. (Kansas City)

Sunday, Oct. 1

Tennis at Baylor Invite (Waco, Texas)

Volleyball at Texas A&M, 3 p.m., SEC Network (College Station, Texas)

Monday, Oct. 2

Tennis vs ITA All-American Championships (Cary, North Carolina)

Tuesday, Oct. 3

Tennis vs ITA All-American Championships (Cary, North Carolina)

Wednesday, Oct. 4

Tennis vs ITA All-American Championships (Cary, North Carolina)

Thursday, Oct. 5

Soccer at Ole Miss, 6 p.m. (Oxford, Mississippi)

Tennis vs ITA All-American Championships (Cary, North Carolina)

Friday, Oct. 6

Tennis vs ITA All-American Championships (Cary, North Carolina)

Women’s Golf at Evie Odom Invitational (Virginia Beach, Virginia.)

Men’s Swimming & Diving at SMU Classic, 11 a.m. (Dallas, Texas)

Softball vs Kaskaskia College, 2:30 p.m.; vs. Columbia College, 5 p.m.

Women’s Swimming & Diving at SMU Classic, 6:30 p.m. (Dallas, Texas)

Volleyball vs. Kentucky, 6:30 p.m., SEC Network+

Men’s & Women’s Basketball Mizzou Madness, 9 p.m.

Links to Click

Group and single-game tickets for Mizzou’s remaining home games are on sale now by calling 1-800-CAT-PAWS or buying online. Fans interested in learning more about available seats can fill out an interest form

For all the latest information on Mizzou Athletics, please visit For up-to-the-minute updates, follow the Tigers on TwitterInstagram and Facebook

Tiger Trivia

1. Chase Daniel held the previous mark of 254, set from Nov. 4, 2006 to Sept. 15, 2007.

2. Grover Cleveland. Mizzou beat Vanderbilt 16-0 on Oct. 12, 1895, in Columbia. The following year, the Tigers beat the Commodores again, 26-6, this time in St. Louis.

3. Colorado, Iowa, Purdue, UCF, Wake Forest

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This article is provided by University of Missouri Athletics