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Mizzou RB Russell Hansbrough takes starting role

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 1, 2014 at 6:41 pm •  Published: September 1, 2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Russell Hansbrough can't remember the previous time he rushed 20 times in a game.

"It'd probably be in peewee football or something like that," the Missouri running back said. "Not even in high school."

Hansbrough, a junior from Arlington, Texas, ran a career-high 126 yards in the No. 24 Tigers' 38-18 season-opening win Saturday against South Dakota State. It was his first career start after backing up Henry Josey alongside Marcus Murphy in his first two seasons.

But with Josey now in the NFL and Murphy seeing increased playing time at receiver, the spotlight will grow brighter on Hansbrough — something he's admitted in the past to not altogether being comfortable with.

"He's a really open guy once you get to know him," said Murphy, a senior who grew up in nearby DeSoto, Texas. "I think you just have to get to know him for him to open up to you. He's a really outgoing, fun, exciting person, but he sticks to himself a lot. Once he gets to know you and get comfortable, you'll see the real Russ."

Running backs coach Brian Jones says he's been working on leadership with all of his players, and that there's still some room to grow in that area. But Jones added that Hansbrough has become a more vocal member of the group as he tries to mentor younger players.

Regardless of how much he says, Hansbrough can always let his performance on the field speak for him.

With 6 ½ minutes remaining in the first quarter Saturday, he slipped three tackles and darted across the field before scampering 10 yards down the sideline and into the end zone. Waiting to greet him was center Evan Boehm, his roommate.

"My mom printed off a picture of his very first touchdown and me holding him up in my arms," Boehm said. "And I have a poster (of that) in my room hanging up, and he has a poster in his room hanging up. That's just a special bond Russ and I have."

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