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Western starters miss spring, in line for full return

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 22, 2014 at 3:37 am •  Published: April 22, 2014

Missouri Western middle linebacker Yomi Alli missed spring practice with a back injury that nagged him throughout last season, but indications are the athletic second-level talent will return to his pre-injuries form in time for his fifth campaign.

The St. Louis native and contributor in every game in which he’s been healthy spent Saturday’s spring scrimmage observing — along with No. 1 wide receiver Stephon Weaver. Coach Jerry Partridge expects both impact juniors to be 100 percent when the Griffons reconvene in August.

“Yomi could’ve went all spring long; easily could’ve went,” said Partridge of Alli, who hasn’t been 100 percent in a game since tearing an ACL in September 2012. “We got into an argument (Friday) because he said he wanted to do 7-on-7 (drills), and he said, ‘It’s just one practice.’ Yeah, it’s just one practice. Well, it’s not worth it. Let’s be ready to go full speed in June when you’re working out and be ready to go in August.

“I think Yomi will be full-speed Yomi come fall.”

Despite the back issue that restricted his comeback season from the more serious injury that knocked him off a potential superstar trajectory, Alli (70 tackles, two fumble recoveries) still received second-team All-MIAA recognition, even though he wasn’t quite the sideline-to-sideline rover he was before the ACL tear. Should that form return, it’s a big boost to a Western defense that already houses two-year tackles leader Stephen Juergens (183 stops the past two falls) on the weak side.

Weaver (47 catches, 583 yards, seven receiving TDs; all easily team bests last season) missed the spring with a knee malady sustained during the offseason for which he will undergo arthroscopic surgery soon to correct.

Partridge also said star running back Raphael Spencer, who scored a 5-yard touchdown Saturday, will have his knee scoped to fix a minor knee ailment.

Hometown examination

Western’s top professional prospect departing will make his first pre-NFL draft visit this week and it will come in a familiar location.

Reggie Jordan said he will visit the St. Louis Rams, the team he grew up cheering for as one of many players that followed the St. Louis-to-St. Joseph pipeline in recent years. The tight end who was one of many former players to watch the current Griffons work Saturday — including NFLers David Bass and Michael Hill — performed well at the NFL Scouting Combine, finishing top-seven among the position in both the bench press (24 repetitions) and 40-yard dash (4.77 seconds).

The Rams, who employ former Western All-American kicker Greg Zuerlein and held a spot on their roster for ex-Griffons guard Roger Allen in 2009, also brought in Bass — a second-year Chicago Bears defensive end — for a visit last spring.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Jordan caught 16 touchdowns in three seasons as a contributor or starter.

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