During a rebuild like Missouri is in, it obviously takes time to build up the roster to a point of where they can be competitive the way Missouri would like to be. Competing for division and conference titles doesn’t just happen overnight.
In every rebuild, though, there are the guys in the early parts of the tenure who are the first building blocks and are fighting to change the culture. It may not seem like it, but the backbone for what is hopefully a great team is on this roster right now, taking their lumps.
Despite what you have seen from this Missouri team in 2021, there really are bright spots for Drinkwitz and the staff to continue to build around.
These guys don’t quite make the list, but still figure to be a moderate to large part of what Missouri is doing going forward.
- Martez Manuel- A talented safety out of Columbia, MO who is at his best when he is in the box and tracking running backs and tight ends. Has started a lot of games in the last two years and will be a factor next season for sure.
- Mookie Cooper- A shifty, speedy receiver from St. Louis who is almost a swiss army knife in how he can be used. Has been a little dinged up this year, but will figure to make his mark in the second half of the season.
- Harrison Mevis- Arguably the best kicker in the SEC, and possibly the country. Still hasn’t missed a field goal or a PAT this season. If he continues at the rate he’s on, we may have to worry about if he’ll be entering the NFL sooner than later.
3. JC Carlies
JC has been a bright spot at safety for Missouri this season, which is particularly hard to do when your unit is as bad as the Missouri defense has been.
That said, Carlies has flashed some athleticism and playmaking ability from that deep safety spot. This is all without mentioning that he is making the transition from corner to safety as well. He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s showing that he has a lot of projectable skills that will help that Mizzou defense.
2. Mekhi Wingo
The defensive tackle spot has been a highly maligned group this year, and for good reason. But if you squint, and look closely, you’ll see that the most consistent defensive tackle on the roster has been the true freshman out of DeSmet Jesuit in St. Louis. He’s had some struggles, and has flashed a lot too. One thing that impresses me the most is his ability to do some of the smaller things. Stuff like Pursuing the football or his presence of mind on screen plays. If he can continue adding weight, and refining some of his game, Missouri will have a scary prospect on hand.
1. Dominic Lovett
The East St. Louis graduate has been the best freshman on the roster, and is receiving real playing time in his true freshman season, and for good reason.
Lovett, as a freshman has displayed some of the best pure route running ability on the roster. He’s shifty, fast, and really deliberate when trying to get in and out of his breaks. It hasn’t resulted in an overwhelming amount of yardage (167 & 1 TD), but he has become a reliable target for Connor Bazelak.
My expectations for Lovett are through the roof, and that’s because it’s very evident that he may be most naturally gifted receiver on the roster right now. He’ll have to continue to grow his body and his game, but when you can glide through your routes the way he does, that’s plenty of reason to feel as optimistic as I do.