Special teams are a tricky thing. When they’re good, nobody wants to talk about ‘em. When they’re bad... Oh, boy. Just wait until your team has a bad special teams unit.
Or, if you’re a Mizzou fan, just think about the 2018 season. (editors note: don’t remind us)
The Tigers had three punts/kicks blocked last year. Only seven teams had a kickoff go out of bounds more often than Missouri did, and they had the 2nd worst punt return average in the country. That’s... not good, and it obviously led to a lot of fan angst. I also have no doubt it also led to some sleepless nights for the coaching staff.
It’s early, but some of those trends have turned in a more positive direction for 2019, and there’s no doubt some of those results are a byproduct of the coaching staff putting a greater emphasis on special teams. That emphasis was once again on display on Wednesday when Missouri got a commitment from one of the top-rated kicking prospects in the country.
Harrison Mevis, the #2 ranked kicker and #10 ranked punter prospect in the country by Kohl’s kicking camps, announced his commitment to Missouri on Wednesday. Mevis accepted a full-ride scholarship, according to PowerMizzou. The full ride portion of the story may sound like a small detail, but it’s not necessarily the norm around college football. Heck, it’s not even typically the norm at Mizzou. Mevis joins Tucker McCann and Corey Fatony as the only specialists to commit to Missouri on full-ride scholarships since 2007.
Where he fits:
Mevis becomes the natural replacement for Turcker McCann. The Tigers currently list three kickers not named Tucker McCann on the roster. All three are walk-on freshmen. I would be surprised if Mevis doesn’t beat them out right away.
The big question to me is what this means for the punting situation. Missouri is using McCann as both the kicker and the punter this season. Will the Tigers stick with that arrangement moving forward? Mevis is apparently a formidable punting prospect as well, so we’ll see if he fits into the punting competition for 2020 as well.
When he’ll play:
I would imagine Mevis plays right away. It’s rare to give a kicking prospect a full ride scholarship. It’s even more rare to give a kicker a full ride scholarship... Only to let him sit for a year.
I suppose it’s possible one of the freshmen walk-ons win the job, but it would come as a bit of a surprise. If the evaluations are accurate and Mevis is as good as advertised, I would imagine he’s the Tigers’ kicker for 2020 and beyond.
What it all means:
Missouri’s emphasis on special teams will continue. Giving out scholarships for specialists is not a given. There are a limited number of scholarships and there are a whole lot of schools who decide not to go this route. It’s reassuring to see that Odom sees the value of having a quality kicker.
We can all remember what it’s like to have a kicker nobody trusts. It changes the way an offense calls its plays. It changes the way you feel about a 2-minute drill. It’s exhausting.
Here’s to hoping Mevis lives up to the hype, and he can come in right away as a replacement for McCann.