Plenty of Tigers to play in home state -

Plenty of Tigers to play in home state

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Plenty of Missouri players will feel right at home Saturday when the 11th-ranked Tigers take on No. 1 Texas.

More than a quarter of Missouri's roster hails from the Lone Star State -- 28 of the 105 players. Quarterback Chase Daniel is perhaps the best known Texan on the Missouri squad, but others include wide receivers Jared Perry, Danario Alexander and Earl Goldsmith, defensive lineman Stryker Sulak and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.

Coach Gary Pinkel has recruited hard in Texas since arriving in Missouri in 2001. He knows that many of his players are eager to play in their home state.

"We have a lot of Texas kids on our team and its a fun game and a fun opportunity for all of them," Pinkel said.

The Tigers might have gone into the game No. 1 themselves if not for a 28-23 loss to then-No. 17 Oklahoma State on Saturday, the same day Texas beat then-top-ranked Oklahoma 45-35.

Perry grew up a fan of the Longhorns in La Marque, Texas. He's excited about playing in Austin.

"I really did want to go there growing up but it feels good to be back in the state and see my family," Perry said.

Pinkel said his experience as an assistant at Washington helped him realize the importance of developing a firm recruiting base in neighboring large states. As offensive coordinator at Washington, he recruited heavily in nearby California.

"I think you have to have a base in recruiting," Pinkel said. "We're in Big 12 country and we are in the papers and stuff down there, so it made sense to me to find another place to draw from."

Some of Missouri's biggest contributors were not heavily recruited in their home state, including Daniel, of Southlake, Texas. Alexander, too.

"I was a Texas fan growing up and they were my favorite team as a kid, but I didn't have any looks from them coming out of high school," Alexander, of Marlin, Texas, said.

Defensive lineman Tommy Chavis of Orange, Texas, isn't only going home -- he'll play against family. His cousin, Deon Beasley, is a cornerback for Texas. Also, Texas defensive back Earl Thomas is a former high school teammate.

"It's going to be nice to play back at home in front of family and play against some old teammates that went to Texas," Chavis said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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