One of Eli Drinkwitz’s first mandates when he took the job at Missouri was to find more pass catchers to make the offense work. In his words, it was time to find some ‘touchdown makers.’
He went to the graduate transfer market to get it done, and he signed both Keke Chism and Damon Hazelton. Both find themselves in the Tigers’ starting lineup, even if the production hasn’t been quite what some may have hoped for.
The problem is what lies behind those two.
Missouri entered the season with more than enough depth at receiver. Then the opt outs and the transfers started rolling in.
Kam Scott announced in June his intention to transfer to Houston. Khmari Thompson announced in July his intentions to transfer, and he eventually found himself a new home at Illinois. Maurice Massey and CJay Boone both decided to opt out the week of the season-opener against Alabama. Massey was officially dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules stemming from an arrest less than six weeks later. Boone remains in the transfer portal.
Dominic Gicinto is the latest hit to the Tigers’ depth at receiver. He announced this week he also plans to enter the transfer portal.
That’s five receivers out the door since the start of the summer. Scott and Gicinto are the only two of those five who had a catch to their name since arriving on campus, combining for 48 receptions for 826 yards and four touchdowns since the start of the 2018 season.
This is less about the production and more about the bodies. At this point, the Tigers are incredibly thin at receiver. There are nine receivers remaining to finish out the season. More importantly, there are just six receivers remaining if the outgoing senior class decides not to return for the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA.
And all of this is assuming there is no more attrition by way of transfers after the year. Oh, and did I mention the Tigers don’t currently have a wide receiver commit for the 2021 class?
Mizzou Scholarship Wide Receivers:
|Keke Chism||Barrett Banister||Tauskie Dove||Kris Abrams-Draine|
|Damon Hazelton Jr.||Jalen Knox||Javian Jester|
|Micah Wilson||Jay Maclin|
The position is a legitimate concern at this point. According to Rivals, there are only five known Mizzou offers for uncommitted wide receivers. That’s not a whole lot of activity at a position that’s been decimated by players walking out the door.
Thankfully, this is a year with more options than exclusively looking at high school players to fill a hole on the roster. It’s expected in January the NCAA will grant a one-time transfer waiver for all student-athletes which would allow for immediate eligibility. If this were to pass, the Tigers’ former receivers would be eligible to play for their new teams in 2021. It would also mean any players who transfer to Missouri would immediately be eligible to play for Drinkwitz.
And, boy, there are a lot of options to help if the Tigers decide to go the transfer route. There are currently 44 uncommitted receivers in the transfer portal, per the 247 Sports tracker.
It’s nearly impossible to know who would be interested in playing for the Tigers, and who has already been contacted by Drinkwitz. But a few players who immediately jump out as potential immediate contributors include John Dunmore (Penn State), Kam Brown (Texas A&M), Te’Vailance Hunt (TCU), John Stephens Jr. (TCU), Calvin Lockett (Iowa), Jordan Kerley (Arizona State), Tyquan Johnson (South Carolina), Jaylen Dixon (Utah) and Antwan Dixon (Kent State).
That’s a lot of names, I know. But those are the players on the market who have shown some sort of production already at the collegiate level. The number one player from that list I would like to see in Columbia is former Utah receiver Jaylen Dixon. Dixon will be a redshirt junior at his next stop after playing in each of Utah’s 28 games in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He’s established himself as a heck of a deep threat, posting 56 receptions for 932 yards and three touchdowns in his career. His 16.6 yards per receptions was fifth among Pac-12 pass catchers with at least 50 receptions in 2018-2019.
Whether it’s Dixon or someone else, there are clearly options available with more inevitably joining the transfer portal as the days and weeks go on. The Tigers are officially thin at receiver for 2020 and beyond. It’s fair to be concerned about that. But there are plenty of ways to combat the issue, and there’s no doubt Drinkwitz will have a plan to do exactly that.