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Mizzou Football: Drew Lock will have plenty of options among the receivers and tight ends

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The Tiger pass catching group features a number of upperclassmen and stars, meaning Drew Lock will have a plethora of steady options when he’s looking downfield.

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The Mizzou receiving corps has a lot of potential, but not many proven commodities. Outside of Emanuel Hall and Johnathan Johnson, which receivers do you see having big years?

Jack Parodi, Football Beat Writer: Rock Bridge alum Alex Ofodile, son of receivers coach A.J. Ofodile, will play this year in his first season since transferring after two ho-hum years at the University of Oregon. Alex was one of the more prolific wide receivers in the Class of 2015, totaling 1,610 yards and 15 touchdowns during his senior year with the Bruins, earning him MSHSAA Class 6 Offensive Player of the Year honors. Health will be the most important factor in Ofodile’s season, but if he can stay healthy, he’s got a natural skillset to be one of the breakout players on Missouri’s offense.

Connor Snelson, Football Analyst: Outside of Emanuel Hall and Jonathan Johnson, I expect senior Nate Brown to have a big year. At 6’3”, 210 pounds he’ll be a big target for Lock. Wide receivers coach A.J. Ofodile recently said all five freshman wideouts could play, and he went on to say they’ve shown “big play potential” throughout fall camp. Regardless, with all the attention on Hall and Johnson, Brown could face opposing defenses third and fourth corners in one-on-one scenarios.

Josh Matejka, Editor: I think Nate Brown and Ofodile both have the potential to have big years, assuming they can stay healthy and consistent. But if Mizzou is going to match the production of great receiving corps of the past, they’re going to need at least five dependable threats for Lock. With all the freshmen on the depth chart, I’m looking at true freshman Dominic Gicinto. He’s been getting a lot of buzz out of summer camp, and he’s already second on the depth chart to Johnathan Johnson. Whether or not he’ll have a big year is an entirely different question, but I think Mizzou fans will be pleasantly surprised when he turns into a regular target out of the slot.

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Albert Okwuegbunam is coming off a massive freshman season, and leads a tight end group that is deep and dangerous. How big of a role will the tight ends play for Dooley’s offense this year?

Jack Parodi: Okuwegbuman was just recently named as one of Kirk Herbstreit’s “Best Kept Secrets” list, and for good reason. He quietly put up 11 touchdowns in his freshman campaign, asserting himself as Lock’s top red zone target. The sophomore will see more snaps in Dooley’s system, as Missouri will run a more pro-style offense in 2018. Okuwegbunam will be an intricate part of the Tigers passing game, while 6-foot-6, 260 pound senior Kendall Blanton serves as a talented, perfect complement to the freshman. He’ll likely be inserted into most goal-line sets as a blocking tight end, but his size will still keep defenses honest enough to respect his receiving ability in the red-zone. Dooley has a pair of dangerous tight ends that he’ll surely get creative with in order to confuse and pick apart defenses.

Connor Snelson: I think Albert Okwuegbunam will be critical in Dooley’s offense. He had an amazing freshman season and I think it’s only up from here for the sophomore tight end. He’ll be needed in the run game as a blocker and seal off man. I think we’ll see most of his success in the passing game. Okwuegbunam and Lock in are in their second season playing with one another, and I expect a massive year from both, especially Okwuegbunam.

Josh Matejka: As a committed fan of the #TightEndPassingGame, it gives me great pleasure to look at the roster and see Okwuegbunam and Blanton leading up the depth chart. Both have proven themselves as capable targets over the past few years and, more importantly, shown they’re dependable in the red zone. To me, the real key is how much they’re incorporated outside the opponent’s 20-yard-line. If Albert O and Kendall Blanton can become threats in the middle of the field, that will take even more pressure off the receiving corps, making them all the more dangerous. If Dooley can get steady pass catching production and average to above blocking from these two, it’ll cement Mizzou as one of the most dangerous offenses in the country.