Archive for Wednesday, September 26, 2001

MU freshman Omboga to start against Huskers

September 26, 2001

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— Asked about freshman receiver Thomson Omboga, Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel sneaks a sly grin.

"He's kind of a confident guy," Pinkel said, understating the obvious. "I really like his personality. We're very fortunate to have him on our football team. He has a lot of big play potential."

Omboga will make his first career start when the Tigers entertain No. 4 Nebraska at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. His confidence has made him popular with his teammates, who are hoping to get Missouri's first win over Nebraska since 1978.

When quarterback Darius Outlaw was asked about Omboga's confidence, he smiled immediately.

"That's just him," Outlaw said. "That's just the way he is. That's his attitude. And people with attitudes like that usually have a way of backing it up."

Omboga hopes he does. The upcoming Nebraska game is by far his biggest game yet. He said he feels ready, and his confidence is apparent.

"That's just my way," Omboga said. "I feel that I'm good enough to compete with anyone. That's the way I'll stay until someone proves me wrong."

Last week, Pinkel informed Omboga that he would be starting over sophomore Shirdonya Mitchell, who started the first two games and caught six passes for 38 yards.

Omboga caught two passes for 16 yards in Missouri's last game, a 40-6 win over Southwest Texas State on Sept. 8. Pinkel said Omboga's work in practice earned him the starting spot.

"He's a good athlete, he catches consistently, he runs good routes and he's maturing," Pinkel said. "He still has some maturing to do, he's a true freshman, but he's extremely talented."

Omboga is a member of Pinkel's first recruiting class. As a senior at Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie, Texas, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Omboga caught 50 passes for 1,027 yards. He was ranked the 27th best receiving prospect in the nation by Rivals.com.

And now he's going to start against Nebraska. That's quite a change for Omboga, who said he feels a little more pressure because the Tigers are playing the Cornhuskers. But he's also enjoying the extra responsibility of being a starter.

"A game like this will open people's eyes to how good or bad I can play," Omboga said. "This will determine my future.

"When (Pinkel) told me I was starting I was happy, but I also knew they would be expecting a lot more from me. I just have to worry about me and do what I have to do."

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