Some pundits say Gary Pinkel has wrapped up his best recruiting class yet. Although according to the…
For early MU enrollee, signing day a marathon
5 a.m.: Get out of bed and get ready.
5:30 a.m.: Head off for daily weightlifting routine.
7 a.m.: Shower, get ready and head to class. (In between, meet with tutors).
1:30 p.m.: Jump in the car and make the 90 minute drive to Brookfield High School, from which Lambert graduated recently.
3:30 p.m: Sit down at a table in front of family and friends, sign National Letter of Intent to accept a scholarship to play football at Missouri, the school at which he's already been attending classes for a month.
4:30 p.m.: Return to Columbia, hoping not to get stuck in traffic on the way.
6:15 p.m.: Arrive in Columbia.
So, what comes next on the agenda?
"I'm going," Lambert said, "to sleep."
Lambert, a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder who was one of the state's best linebackers, has been at MU for a month along with highly touted recruit Michael Keck. The two roommates, who are the only two incoming freshman to enroll early, have quickly adopted the rigorous daily grind that comes with the life of a college athlete.
On many days, the two are up and out before the sun, getting into the weight room, attending thrice-weekly team conditioning sessions, and taking 16 credit-hours of classes apiece.
"We try to work hard and bust our butts," said Lambert, an all-state selection last year who was one of the first players to become part of the recruiting class MU coach Gary Pinkel will announce this afternoon. "We've had to push each other at times, because it was hard for us to come down here early."
One of the biggest differences has been the sheer size of the university and its population.
"You don't see many people around that you know. You don't see anybody twice in the same day," Lambert said. "But everybody's been really friendly."
The other adjustment? Getting used to not being ‘the' big-time athlete on campus.
"Everybody here is the best player. Everyone here can do everything. You've really got to put your mind to it," said Lambert, who was also a standout hurdler and basketball player at Brookefield.
And that includes Keck, rated the best recruit in Pinkel's class – a four-star linebacker who was wooed by many top programs.
"I can see it [why]," Lambert said. "He's got that mentality that very few people have. He gets down to it. He comes to work."
Lambert opted for early enrollment, he said, "to get into the program and see if I can make something happen now.
"But I'm going to have to earn it like everyone else," he said, offering that he wouldn't be completely disappointed should the coaches elect to tag a redshirt on him.
Surprisingly homesickness hasn't hit either player yet. The same cannot be said for Lambert's mother, who is missing him terribly and calls him often. Tomorrow, though, she'll get to see him in person.
For at least a few minutes, anyway.
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