SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Bobby Petrino knew he was inheriting challenges when he took the Missouri State football job, but a global pandemic was not even on his radar.
“I never ever thought it would happen like this, but I’m really happy to be here,” Petrino said. “I’m excited about it. I think we can really build something. It’s a great challenge.”
While the status of fall sports remains foggy, Petrino is focused on the current hurdles of digital recruiting and training.
“Right now the biggest challenge is that we didn’t have Spring ball. We’re trying to prepare players to play next Fall by doing these Zoom meetings.”
Despite these obstacles, however, Petrino has managed to put together a first class of Bears he’s proud of.
“We took a lot of time and studied the guys on our team, watching video of them. Then studied recruits that had already signed, watching video on them. Then we felt like we really needed to add to our defensive line, our linebacker spots. Those were the number one areas.”
One recruit in particular has created some buzz among Bear fans: redshirt freshman transfer quarterback Jaden Johnson.
“I think we’re going to like him. He’s a big guy that can still run. Even though he’s a pocket passer and has all the ability to make throws in the pocket. But he is fast and he can change directions.”
Petrino originally recruited Johnson to Louisville, but after being fired Johnson ended up a redshirt at Southern Miss.
Petrino says a big part of convincing the transfer to Missouri State is the system he brings to Springfield.
“He was sold on what we do offensively and how we prepare quarterbacks. I think that was what attracted him to want to come here and transfer here. When I took the job I said it was our responsibility to put fans in the seats. One of the things we needed to do was get some really good, star players that the fans will relate to and want to watch play. I certainly believe Jaden is one of them. Now obviously he has to go out and show it.”
He’ll have to show it against seven other listed quarterbacks on the roster and limited time on the practice field.
Despite all the challenges, however, Petrino and his team are taking a positive attitude forward as their first Fall in Springfield approaches.
“If we can get back on the field, we’re going to enjoy it and let the seniors enjoy their last go around.”