In offense of graduate transfers, Maietti could make crucial contribution

The center from Rutgers brings experience and intelligence to the offensive line.

Much has been made of the potential impacts that graduate transfers like wide receivers Damon Hazelton and Keke Chism can make on a brand new Missouri offense, but that conversation often leaves out a man in the middle — center Michael Maietti — who coaches believe will be crucial in stabilizing the offensive line.

“His leadership has been invaluable,” coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “He’s done a great job of anchoring it, as you can tell.”

Maietti comes to Missouri from Rutgers, where he started 24 consecutive games over the past two seasons at center. He will begin the season at that spot in Columbia, where he’ll bring experience and intelligence to the trenches.

“Our defense is very multiple at what they do, transitioning between odd and even; they’ve done a lot more even fronts and movements than they’ve had in the past,” Drinkwitz said. “Just being able to put those things together and creating issues has been tough, but Maietti’s seen a lot of it before because of his experience starting at center, and he’s been able to keep guys going, communicate and echo calls. He knows what we’re thinking.”

Throughout fall camp, Maietti has drawn praise from Drinkwitz, as well as teammates like returning starter and team captain Case Cook.

“I like Mike,” Cook said. “He’s a solid football player, a smart football player, I think we’re fortunate to have him. I think he brings a sense of calmness in the middle; he’s able to see stuff, and we’re making calls fast. Obviously, experience helps out a ton, so I’m glad we have him on our line, and I enjoy playing next to him.”

On film, Maietti’s relentlessness in the run game had to have caught the eyes of the Missouri coaches, but they have raved about his intangibles much more.

“I lean on my teammates a lot, so I can lean on those guys for anything that I really need help with adjusting to, and we’ve really gone a good job with that,” Maietti said.

A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Maietti is tasked with leading a line that saw three of its everyday starters — tackle Yasir Durant, guard Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms and center Trystan Colon-Castillo — sign NFL contracts in April. Starting tackle Hyrin White still dons black and gold, but he’s currently sidelined with a shoulder injury.

Larry Borom and Cook return at right tackle and guard after starting most of the 2019 season, but the left side is still in doubt.

“[Redshirt sophomore] Bobby Lawrence has taken quite a few reps at left tackle and at the left guard position, [redshirt sophomore] Xavier Delgado has really been the guy, but things have kept him from being consistently in that position,” Drinkwitz said. “There’s other guys that need to step up, and we’re still trying to figure out who that group of five is gonna be.”

“No matter who’s there, we got to go out and work,” Maietti said. “So it doesn’t matter. As long as we got five, we’re going.”

Edited by Eli Hoff |

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