On Friday, Missouri running back Anthony Watkins entered his name in the transfer portal. He was coming off a redshirt freshman year where he saw action in just one game, rushing for 19 yards.
However, according to Watkins, the choice to leave Mizzou wasn’t his.
“I had received a call last week on Wednesday from my running back coach, Curtis Luper,” Watkins explained. “He reached out to me and was like, ‘I got some bad news’ and told me ‘Well, you’re still on scholarship, that’s not being taken away from you, but you will no longer be on the team.'”
Luper’s explanation of the situation raised a lot of questions with the Fort Worth, Texas native.
“He said the reason was because they were starting to lose scholarships and they are running low,” Watkins detailed. “And I couldn’t understand that because the ban was so long ago where they are eligible to play in a bowl now, so what does that have to do with me? I just felt like something shady was going on.”
Missouri is in fact restricted to 81 scholarships for the 2020 football season, down four from the normal limit, as part of the NCAA sanctions from the Yolanda Kumar case. But Watkins was surprised his spot was one of those going away. His family wanted answers from Missouri’s new head coach.
“So, my mom called Coach (Eli) Drinkwitz and he tried to play it off and said he was going to talk to the running backs coach (Luper) and see what was going on,” Watkins said. “It took him 35 minutes to call back. I felt like they were trying to get their stories together because him (Drinkwitz) and Coach Luper are very, very close. They go way back.”
Ultimately, Watkins said, both Luper and Drinkwitz suggested he go in another direction.
“They tried to downplay me and make me feel I wasn’t good enough to be on the team,” Watkins said. “Coach Luper is the one that told me that I should enter the transfer portal. In the back of my head I’m thinking, ‘why don’t you all put me in there since you want me there so badly?’ Coach Drinkwitz didn’t really care if I stayed or not. He didn’t say that directly, but he did say that he no longer wanted me on this team.”
With that, Watkins made the decision to move on and look for a new place to play.
“I was just like, you know what? It’s time for a new beginning. A new me.”
PowerMizzou.com reached out to Drinkwitz through a team spokesman, but the coach chose not to comment for this story when informed of Watkins’ remarks.
Despite the ending, Watkins said he really enjoyed his time being a student-athlete at Missouri and was making good grades. He’s hoping to pursue an engineering degree at his next school.