Missouri football's Kurtis Gregory has to wait BY JIM THOMAS ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 03/20/2010 http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sp...B2876494FC92B668862576EC000E8F38?OpenDocument COLUMBIA, Mo. — As an eighth-grader in west central Missouri, Kurtis Gregory had a class assignment to write out his three goals in life. For Gregory, Goal No. 1 was starting on the Sante Fe High varsity football squad as a freshman. Check. Goal No. 2 was playing football for a Division I program. Check. At the University of Missouri, Gregory started 41 consecutive games at right guard, helping to get the Tigers back on the national stage as a bowl team and Big 12 Conference contender. Now it's time for Goal No. 3: playing in the NFL. "He had a real good career here," coach Gary Pinkel said Thursday at Mizzou's pro day. "I think he can play at that level. He's very athletic, a very, very bright guy." Gregory fought his way through a lot of injuries at Missouri, including shoulder, knee, and ankle operations. But he always kept playing, made it through the season and had the injury fixed in the offseason. Gregory, 6-4½, 305 pounds, planned to do individual drills at Thursday's pro day. But the scouts from about a dozen or so NFL teams, including the Rams, 49ers, Eagles, Ravens, Dolphins, Titans, Bears, and Jaguars, told him to take the afternoon off. "They said they already had enough on me, so I called it quits," Gregory said. Gregory did everything at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis 3½ weeks ago. He also participated in Mizzou's first pro day on March 4 in Columbia. And if the scouts need game film, there's four seasons worth, including those 41 starts in 2007, '08, and '09. As the draft approaches, there's nothing left for Gregory to do but wait. Wait to see if any teams want to see him in a private workout setting or bring him in for one of the "top 30" visits. Draft prospects aren't allowed to work out at the top 30 visits. So far, no visits or private workouts are lined up. "I'm just sitting here waiting, twiddling my thumbs," Gregory said. "Watching the paint dry, I guess you could say." Gregory did talk to several teams at the combine. "St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, New Orleans, Oakland," he said. "New England has talked to my agent." He also spoke with Carolina at Thursday's pro day. Gregory expects to get drafted, but as to where and when. ... "I have no idea," he said. "I'm sure God has a plan for me, and wherever I go that's where I'm going." Which puts him at the opposite end of the draft spectrum as his Mizzou teammate, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who has a pretty good idea he will go in the first round or second. In part because of his uncertain status, Gregory isn't sure he'll even watch the draft on TV next month. "I'll probably just 'TiVo' the whole thing and make sure I'm at a spot out in the country where my cell phone will get reception," Gregory said. "It'll be planting season then, so I might be out helping my buddy plant corn, something like that. Might be on a tractor." Gregory grew up on a farm and the family remains involved in raising hogs and cattle. Before his football career ended at Mizzou, Gregory had earned bachelors and masters degrees in agriculture. He loves farming and may get back to that eventually, but only after reaching Goal No. 3. Asked to describe himself as a player, Gregory said, "I'm smart. I like to use my technique, because I know playing smart and using technique will beat almost anything any day of the week." After playing at pass-happy Mizzou, his pass blocking is more polished than his run blocking. And when NFL teams ask him how often he actually blocked out of a three-point stance, Gregory confesses — only about 40 times over four years. Teams have also asked if Gregory can play center. He was Mizzou's backup center over the past two years, but that meant he played the position only in scrimmages and practices. "I won't say it's second nature to me, but I've done it," Gregory said. Versatility can be a big asset for young NFL linemen trying to establish themselves. Gregory played left tackle as a redshirt freshman for the Tigers and also played tight end in jumbo sets over the course of his college career. "He's an athletic offensive lineman," Weatherspoon said. "He can move well; he's not just a big guy that can't move. When he has to be finesse, he can be finesse. When he has to get down there in the trenches and fire off the ball, he can do that as well. So I think he'll bring both of those dimensions to an NFL offense."