COLUMBIA, Mo. * Freshman offensive tackle Harneet Gill left the Missouri football team three days into preseason camp after deciding he had “lost faith in the plan” to treat his surgically repaired foot and that Mizzou was not “the right fit,” he said.
Gill missed his entire senior season at Francis Howell last year after breaking his left foot during a preseason practice. He had spent the last year rehabbing from surgery performed by Pat Smith, Missouri’s team physician.
Earlier today, Gill talked to Missouri assistant coaches Josh Henson and Cornell Ford about returning to the program but said he’ll request to be released from his scholarship tonight.
Asked today about Gill’s status, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel declined to elaborate on his reason for leaving the team, saying only that he left for “personal reasons.” Asked if Gill’s departure was related to an injury, Pinkel said, “No, no, no. None.”
“My foot injury was a huge factor," Gill said today in a phone interview.
“I went through the summer thinking I could get over it, but it didn’t work out,” Gill said. “I knew I was going to redshirt, but the rehabilitation plan didn’t fit my needs.”
Gill declined to mention anyone from Missouri’s training staff by name or elaborate on any specific conflict with the staff. Gill insisted he’s not upset with Missouri’s coaches.
“I love the coaching staff there,” Gill added. “Coach Henson and Coach Ford were huge factors in my recruiting. I wish them the best of luck this season. I know they’re going to be great.”
Asked for further comment on the situation tonight, Pinkel and team trainer Rex Sharp declined, via team spokesman Chad Moller.
In his second preseason practice at Francis Howell last August, Gill suffered what’s called a Lisfranc fracture, a break of the midfoot. He also tore some tendons. Gill participated in Missouri’s first preseason practice Thursday but said his foot was too sore to practice Friday. He wore a red non-contact jersey and sat out drills, after which Henson said Gill had some swelling in his foot.
“Hopefully it will clear up in the next day or two and we’ll get him back out there,” Henson said Friday. Gill did not attend Saturday's practice, after which Pinkel told reporters he'd left the team.
The 6-foot-6, 280-pound freshman was rated the No. 11 player in the state for the 2013 recruiting class by Rivals.com and the country’s No. 70 offensive tackle prospect. He committed to Mizzou’s class in March 2012.
Gill said he definitely plans to resume his football career elsewhere but doubts his foot will be healthy in time to play this season.
“You’ll see me on the football field again,” he said. “I’m not going to take a year off, but I’m going to recuperate, evaluate the situation, recover my foot and get bigger, faster and stronger. Down the road, God has a plan for me and we’ll see where it takes me.”
“There are great fans here,” he added. “I love Mizzou. It’s been my favorite program since childhood. It just wasn’t the right fit for me.”
Gill becomes the fourth player from Missouri’s 2013 recruiting class who’s not with the team. Tailback Chase Abbington (Fort Zumwalt South) and defensive lineman Antar Thompson (Maplewood Richmond Heights) both failed to qualify academically and enrolled in junior college. Duron Singleton, a safety from Fresno City, Calif., Community College, was expected to transfer and arrive last week, but Pinkel announced Thursday that Singleton wasn’t joining the program, citing undisclosed “personal reasons.”