DeSean Blair (6'3, 190, RSFr.)
Fullback U: Having overtaken J’Mon Moore at the X-receiver position, DeSean Blair strikes me as a L’Damian Washington clone, tall, thin, fast, good hands. He seems to have responded well to the promotion and if he produce like LDW at the same point in his Mizzou career it will be a positive step forward.
...and he’s already gotten on SportsCenter:
The Beef: Of the RSFR group, I believe he is the one I heard the least about last season or this spring. It certainly could be just that I was not paying too much attention, but I feel like the move of Ray Wingo, the spring of Thomas Richard and the athleticism of Keyon Dilosa made more of an impact on me. He starts the fall ahead Moore, though, so opportunity abounds for the young man from Jacksonville.
Bill C.: Obviously you have to do more than make acrobatic catches to be a good receiver ... but that doesn't hurt. We still need to learn much more about Desean Blair -- can he block? how good is he after the catch? is he going to fumble after making the touch grab? -- but he's figured out how to make an impression. And while he vaulted to the first string thanks to an argument between J'Mon Moore and a strength coach, he doesn't seem ready to relinquish that spot yet. Mizzou might be starting two members of the 2014 signing class on September 5.
Raymond Wingo (5'11, 175, RSFr.)
The Beef: This is one of the more intriguing names for the Tigers at the WR spot. Raymond moved over from defense in the spring because of a lack of pass catchers and seemed to take to it pretty well and quickly by many accounts. And though we are adding three new redshirt freshmen and four (or more) new true frosh to the mix, Ray stayed on the offensive side through the summer and appears to be slated for it this fall.
In the Wingo family, speed is the name of the game, as older brother Ronnie basically stays on NFL practice squads because he can run fast. Right now, they have him on the outside behind J’Mon and DeSean, but a solid fall might see him moving up or perhaps over (to the "Z" spot perhaps?)
jaeger: Everybody sees a small, shifty guy and wants him in the slot, but I don’t think it’s that simple in the Mizzou offense. Mr. Wingo got switched to the WR role in spring ball, and he’s got all the physical ability you could want. Best case scenario, he’s TJ Moe with better straight-line speed. At the least, we need him to be a guy who uses his quickness to get open underneath and keeps the chains moving.
Fullback U.: Ray Wingo seems like a fan favorite to provide a dynamic receiving threat and perhaps he will, I’m just not sure what sets him apart from others right now. He’s a redshirt freshman, but he also just changed positions and is competing against several other talented young receivers, so I’ll be looking to see what he can provide.
Bill C.: We all look for saviors. With tales of young receivers struggling at times this spring, Wingo switched sides and immediately made a few plays for the offense. That's all we need to hear to jump to conclusions sometimes. But in reality, as Fullback mentioned, he's a young, talented, speedy guy fighting for a spot among a bunch of young, talented, speedy guys. If he breaks through, that would be incredible, but it's not usually that simple.
Thomas Richard (6'1, 190, RSFr.)
The Beef: So on one hand I thought I had heard a good amount of good things about Thomas Richard this past spring (though it is entirely possible I am taking stuff from safety Thomas Wilson and projecting it to Thomas Richard), but here I look at the depth chart and find Mr. Richard behind 2015’s Gavin Otte (Eric Laurent) at the "H" spot (also behind presumed starter Nate Brown). Some room to grow for Richard, and I cannot say I would be upset to see him supplant Laurent as the season goes on.
Fullback U: Held out of practice on Wednesday because of a hamstring injury, Thomas Richard had been receiving praise from Pat Washington lining up at the slot position behind Nate Brown. He’s certainly another option to earn reps if Maty Mauk can develop some confidence in him.
Bill C.: I tend to get as excited about the out-of-nowhere commits in Mizzou recruiting as I do for the names we've been tracking for a while. Mizzou unearthed Richard pretty early in the 2014 recruiting process, and it does seem like he's putting together a decent all-around skill set. But he's behind many at the moment; how long might it take him to develop?
That I'm asking that says a lot about Mizzou's 2015 receiving corps. Usually, a redshirt freshman gets plenty of time to develop. Every year, a Tiger makes a breakthrough as a sophomore or a junior after a few years of mental and physical development. But Mizzou needs a couple of 2014 signees to be ready to roll; it appears Brown and Blair are the most likely at this point.
Keyon Dilosa (6'3, 200, RSFr.)
The Beef: Of the four redshirt freshmen, here is my darkhorse/one I am most excited about.
I recall seeing that Dilosa, though a bit raw coming out of Round Rock, TX, was an absolute physical freak in his NIKE Sparq scoring. An Achilles injury made sure the redshirt stayed on last fall, but I can see him as the deep threat no one sees coming this fall. Right now, he is No. 2 at the Z position, which appears to be the most wide open of the three, with Wes Leftwich in front of him and walk-on Jake Brents behind him. I am guessing this might be the most fluid of the three slots and the one most apt for a frosh to see some time. That said, it means all the more opportunity for Dilosa, who I assume is healthy enough to make a real run at significant PT.
Fullback U: If DeSean Blair is L’Damian Washington then Keyon Dilosa is Marcus Lucas. He’s got good size and great athleticism but might drops some passes he shouldn’t. That’s perhaps why he’s still behind Wesley Leftwich. I’m very high on Dilosa’s potential, and I'm totally serious when I say I’m impressed by him embracing the challenge of wearing No. 15 considering who wore it most recently.
Eric Laurent (6'3, 215, Jr.)
The Beef: Color me shocked when I saw that Eric Laurent was as big as he is. I am guessing this might afford him chances on special teams as well as receiver, which is nice to bolster playing time. As for this season, well, no offense to him, but I would be fine if he caught a few balls, threw a couple of nice blocks, but all from the position as the sixth or seventh WR on the squad.
Fullback U: Eric Laurent is tall and big and will provide depth for Mizzou’s wide receiving corps.
Bill C.: We talk a lot about ceilings and floors, and it's quite conceivable that, within such a hilariously young unit, Laurent's knowledge of the offense gives him a floor quite a bit higher than those around him on the depth chart. From Dave Matter:
Quarterback Maty Mauk has compared Laurent to former Mizzou receiver T.J. Moe, who also made the switch from St. Louis area high school quarterback — Moe played at Fort Zumwalt West — to slot receiver at Mizzou. From 2009-2012, Moe caught 188 passes for the Tigers, fifth-most in team history.
Laurent "just knows what the quarterback is thinking and knows where to go to get open," Mauk said. "Honestly, Eric’s one that I really expect big things from. He’s the guy who always puts in extra work. He’s got all the ability it takes."
"I think one of my biggest strengths is my knowledge of the game," Laurent said. "I know how to read defenses pretty well, so just being able to see the safety, see the outside linebacker and knowing which defense they’re going to most likely be running, I can get into the right position where Maty can throw me the ball."
In theory, you hope he doesn't make it too far up the depth chart, simply because that means that a lot of the young guys are thriving. In reality, he really might have an opportunity to carve out a niche.