partlycloudy
Sunday May 24th, 2015 7:29PM

Missouri offensive line preps for No. 7 Georgia

By The Associated Press
COLUMBIA, MISSOURI -- There were times during Missouri's 62-10 win over Southeastern Louisiana when offensive lineman Max Copeland had to collect himself and keep a promise he made to his dad.

"I'm here, man, I'm here," Copeland said he remembered thinking as he looked around at more than 62,000 fans in Memorial Stadium on Saturday. His father, Michael, made Max promise to take a little joy in how far he'd come.

A native of Billings, Mont., Copeland spent three years with Missouri as a walk-on before earning a scholarship two weeks before the season. The 6-3, 290-pound right guard then made his first start Saturday after senior Jack Meiners sprained a knee.

For Copeland, a redshirt junior with wiry blond hair and a passion for rock `n' roll, starting for his father's alma mater was a long time coming.

"There's been something about watching Mizzou games since before I remember, there was a decision made, I'm going to be one of them," Copeland said. "I'm supposed to be one of them. ... This is a calling. I've been summoned."

Copeland's coaches awarded him the highest grade, 92, of any offensive lineman in the game. Co-offensive line coach Josh Henson said it's satisfying to see players absorb instruction and raise their level of play, adding that attention to fundamental techniques is as important on the offensive line as anywhere else on the team, if not more so.

Missouri's offensive line allowed only one sack Saturday, though the competition will be much more challenging this Saturday: No. 7 Georgia visits Missouri in the Tigers' first game against a fellow Southeastern Conference opponent - and one packing a rugged defense.

Copeland is ready.

"I'm not too smart and not too good-looking, but intensity is something I consider a strong suit," said Copeland, a physics major.

Evan Boehm, the first true freshman to start on the offensive line under coach Gary Pinkel in his 12th season at Missouri, thanked Copeland for pumping him and others up on the line. A 6-3, 310-pounder, Boehm got the nod after senior Travis Ruth underwent surgery to repair a torn left triceps tendon.

Boehm wants to improve each week. He'll be looking to his "big brothers" Elvis Fisher and Justin Britt for guidance with the Bulldogs coming in.

During the summer, Boehm would watch film with Britt, a junior starting at right tackle. Then, during fall camp, Boehm would talk football and family with Fisher, a sixth-year Tiger starting at left tackle.

"It's just like we knew each other for five or six years, but we'd just met each other," the freshman said.

Even though he's been here "since Clinton was in office," according to Copeland, Fisher says he's learning from what the new starters bring to the table.

"A guy like Max, it kind of makes you put it in perspective," Fisher said. "Guys who come in on scholarship, maybe two-a-days is a drag. For someone who comes in as a walk-on, to have that great of an attitude and to earn a scholarship, earn a starting spot, it makes you really appreciative."

The eclectic group, including sophomore Mitch Morse at center, realizes the challenges facing Missouri as it prepares to face its first SEC opponent. But that won't stop the good times from rolling.

"You get guys from all different sorts of backgrounds and parts of the country, and you get together for a common goal, it's learning," Copeland said. "You learn from each other. It's a wonderful experience and at the end of the day, that's why we do it."
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 2 years ago )
Top 10 sports stories of the year: 2012 one for the history books
2012 has been all things to all people in the sports world. The last 12 months have run the gamut of emotions and given fans and spectators much to awe, rue and everything in between.
2:33PM ( 2 years ago )
College Football Hall to break ground in Atlanta
Groundbreaking for the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta will be Jan. 28 and the museum is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
2:15PM ( 2 years ago )
Sports
Tech's 2nd half surge beats Fordham 73-48
Daniel Miller and Robert Carter Jr. each scored 14 points and Georgia Tech scored 17 straight points in the second half en route to a 73-48 victory over Fordham on Saturday night.
10:17PM ( 2 years ago )
Djurisic's career night leads Dogs past Florida A&M
Nemanja Djurisic scored a career-high 21 points and Georgia won its third straight Saturday 82-73 over Florida A&M.
7:26PM ( 2 years ago )
Ga. Southern beats Ga. State, 68-64 in overtime
Eric Ferguson scored 24 points and Georgia Southern overcame a late double-digit deficit to beat Georgia State 68-64 in overtime on Saturday.
7:25PM ( 2 years ago )
College Sports
Birth of son brings change to Kyle Busch’s life
The birth of a first child is often described as a life-changing experience. For NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch, it has also been diaper-changing.
By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
12:00PM ( 7 hours ago )
Questions about safety hover over 99th Indianapolis 500
They call the Indianapolis 500 "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" for its high speeds, rich history, enormous crowd and the take-your-breath-away competition.
By Jenna Fryer-AP Auto Racing Writer
8:00AM ( 11 hours ago )
STATE CHAMPS: Buford sweeps Whitewater for AAAA title (VIDEO)
Buford won its first state baseball title since 2011 with a sweep of Whitewater Saturday in the Class AAAA championship series...
6:25AM ( 13 hours ago )
Austin Dillon dominates for Charlotte Xfinity victory
Austin Dillon raced to his second NASCAR Xfinity Series win of the season on Saturday with a victory in the Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
By Pete McCole
12:15AM ( 19 hours ago )
VIDEO: Rankings mean nothing to Wolves -- they want a ring
Seniors Joey Bart, Jake Higginbotham, Connor Bennett, and Keyton Gibson aren’t worried about expectations at this point in the season. They know first hand expectations usually are worth about as much as it cost you to listen to them...
5:00PM ( 1 day ago )