It’s been an exciting offseason for Mizzou fans. The recruiting news never seemed to stop. The wide receiver position, for example, added two potential starting options in Ohio State transfer Mookie Cooper and four star East St. Louis graduate Dominic Lovett.
When you have an offseason of additions, it can be easy to forget about the players who stepped up in 2020. The shiny new object has a way of holding our attention.
Don’t let those shiny new objects take all the attention from Tauskie Dove, Mizzou fans. The former three star recruit out of the Dallas area emerged last season as a reliable target for Connor Bazelak. His teammates are expecting big things from him in 2021.
“Watch out for Tauskie Dove, man,” Case Cook said at last week’s SEC Media Days. “The work he’s put in over the offseason... Watch out. That’s all I’m going to say.”
We’ve already seen flashes from Dove. His first game-breaking play came in 2019 in the final game of the season against Arkansas. You probably remember the catch, but in case you don’t...
Dove used that moment as a jumping off point, both figuratively and literally. Dove once again shined in the Tigers’ signature win last season against LSU. He finished that day with six catches for more than 80 yards and a touchdown. It was in that game Dove established himself as a legitimate starting option on the outside.
Loved this play by Tauskie Dove, too. Wins inside leverage against one of the best corners in the country (Derek Stingley Jr.) and then attacks the ball at the catch point. They're little things, but they become big things. #Mizzou pic.twitter.com/r1Ih59LHCR— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) October 13, 2020
This was no small thing for Mizzou. The Tigers had struggled mightily to recruit and develop starting caliber receivers in recent years. Check out this list of Mizzou’s receiver commits from 2016-2019:
- 2016 class: Christian Holmes, Dominic Collins, Dimetrios Mason, Harry Ballard
- 2017 class: O’Shae Clark
- 2018 class: Harry Ballard (JUCO), Danny Green, Kam Scott, Kamari Thompson, Dominic Gicinto, Tauskie Dove
- 2019 class: Maurice Massey, CJ Boone
That’s a whole lot of players who either changed positions, transferred, or never made it on campus. And then there’s Dove.
Dove, much like his fellow Ryan High School grad, Bud Sasser, is a bit of a late bloomer. He was a late addition to Mizzou’s 2018 class, and it took him a couple years to find his place in the offense. The same was true of Sasser. Sasser’s best season his first three years on campus was 2013, when he finished the year with 26 receptions for 361 yards and a touchdown. That’s not too dissimilar from Dove’s 30 reception, 300 yard and two touchdown year in 2020.
Could Dove be on track for a year similar to Sasser’s breakout 2014 season when he finished with 77 receptions for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns?
I’m not ruling it out. Dove is exactly the type of receiver that every coach loves to have. He does all of the little things, including blocking on the outside.
Here's another example on a breakaway Tyler Badie run. Watch Tauskie Dove at the bottom of the screen. Gets just enough of the CB to give Badie a lane to the outside. It doesn't take much. Blocking is as much about effort as anything at WR. Dove & Wilson are willing & able. pic.twitter.com/idPlFzkXnM— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) October 28, 2020
It’s not sexy, but that’s how you stay on the field consistently to give yourself more opportunities. The Tigers are looking for new faces to emerge in the receiving corps, but this unit will only reach its full potential if players like Tauskie Dove take the next step in their development.
If that means Dove becomes the next Bud Sasser, sign me up.