Throughout the remainder of the offseason, I’ll be putting a spotlight on one returning player and one newcomer at each position who’s generally intriguing for the 2022 season. There are plenty of avenues of thought when it comes to who you may think is most interesting, so feel free to share your opinion down below in the comments!
Returner: WR Mookie Cooper
This one was close, as you have a few returners to choose from, but Cooper is the pick for me because you could see the flashes of game breaking ability that Missouri fans have been clamoring for at that position.
Cooper started out 2021 with a dinged foot, and it was something that really affected him and his play to start the season. There were obvious signs he wasn’t exactly 100% as he played through his injury in a limited role. At the same time, there was a sense that Drinkwitz called plays as if Cooper was hurt almost to protect him, and it all just seemed forced at first. There were a lot of jet sweeps and lateral movement, and fewer traditional route concepts which didn’t exactly sit well with Mookie either.
Drinkwitz says he's done an disservice to WR Mookie Cooper by designing a limited role for him while he's still recovering from foot injury. Said they're working with him & medical staff to get him right.— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) September 28, 2021
A conversation was had, and Mookie sat for a few games while trying to get his foot back up to a serviceable level. However, when he came back, you finally got to see him in a more traditional role, running vertical, instead of horizontally.
The stats weren’t outrageous, but the flashes were bright based off of plays like these:
You can see the speed as he creates a whole lot of separation at the top of his route, and it would’ve been a bigger distance if he had the ball lead him forward.
Going forward in 2022, I hope Mookie has a bigger role in the offense. More traditional route concepts that allow him to use his speed to take the top off of the defense. This year had a glimpse of it, but he was hampered by his own injuries and subpar quarterback play. However, Mookie showed when he’s right, he can play. Now it’s just a matter of putting him in the right positions consistently and keeping him healthy. He could be primed for a big 2022.
Newcomer: WR Mekhi Miller
Missouri signed three receivers in the 2022 class, and the one with the least fanfare is probably my favorite of the bunch. We know about Luther Burden, and most people have seen Ja’Marion Wayne, but Mekhi Miller is the guy who flies under the radar.
It’s somewhat surprising, because when you turn on the tape, it shows him doing a myriad of things for the Blue Valley North offense. The first thing you see is the speed, which at the high school level is really impressive. But if you’re a recruit of his caliber, I’d hope you’re beating kids on go routes consistently. It’s the other aspects of his game that stand out to me. It’s the sticky hands, and the ability to make contested catches. It’s the crisp cuts on his routes, and willingness to go across the middle to make tough catches. He has the ability to make guys miss, but also heady enough to constantly remember the little things, like how to get open on a scramble drill.
There’s much more here that meets the eye than just a speedster.
Early season playing time may be an uphill battle, but Miller has SEC skills, that much is clear. He checks boxes in the skill department, and I’d say he has a projectable frame that makes me think he can continue to add weight and support it well.
He may not be the highest ranked of receivers, but all of the reasons discussed previously, it wouldn’t surprise me to find Miller leading this receiving corps in a year or two.