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.
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.
Closing in on
As it’s done to every MIAA opponent this year, No. 24 Central Missouri baseball took a series from an MIAAer.
The Mules (32-13, 29-7 MIAA) clinched a share of the conference’s regular-season title by beating last year’s champions in three of four last weekend in Warrensburg, Mo.
Western (24-17, 20-14), which won the series’ first game 8-2 before allowing at least 14 runs in each ensuing contest, still sits fourth and needs just one win or a loss from ninth-place Missouri Southern to clinch its fourth consecutive MIAA Tournament berth.
Entering on a 15-wins-in-18-games tear, the Griffons used seven hits from their batting order’s top four hitters to cruise to a Game 1 win. Leadoff man Trevor LaHonta (.337 batting average) laced three hits and drove in two runs, while senior cleanup man David Chew (.347, team-high 39 RBIs) launched a three-run home run as part of a four-RBI day and four-run Western first inning.
The league’s pre-eminent program, however, combined for 44 runs in the final three games to stall Western’s second-half momentum.
Twelfth-place Fort Hays State travels to Griffon Spring Sports Complex this weekend. If the Griffons remain in fourth, they host an MIAA opening-round game for the second straight year.
Callie Wilson came through at a good juncture and sits among the leaders at the MIAA women’s golf championships after Monday’s first round.
The Western sophomore from Hermantown, Minn., tied her season-best round with a 9-over 81 at Alvamar Golf Club in Lawrence, Kan., placing her in seventh entering today’s final round. Western also sits seventh (363) in the nine-team field, while Northwest Missouri State — aided by 13th-place Taylor Gard’s 84 — rests fourth (345).
Behind a Round 1 73 (1-over) from junior Scott Sheldon, Griffons men’s golf is sixth (301) in the 12-team men’s field. Round 2 begins today.
Extras: Ranked seventh in the Central Region, Western softball (31-15, 14-8) enters a pivotal weekend with home games against Northeastern State and Central Oklahoma — the region’s fourth-slotted team — Friday and Saturday, respectively. ... Western has the third-most wins in the region.
Sam Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPSports.
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