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When you think back to the best seasons by a Mizzou wide receiver, two immediately come to mind: Danario Alexander in 2009 and Jeremy Maclin in 2008. The two combined for more than 3,000 receiving yards and 27 receiving touchdowns. Pretty, pretty, prettyyyy good.
But what if we narrow down the criteria to exclusively include the last decade? In other words, which Mizzou wide receiver posted the best single season since the Tigers made the move to the SEC?
There are a few that immediately stand out: L’Damian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham in 2013, Bud Sasser as the team’s lone target in 2014, and J’Mon Moore in Missouri’s run-n-gun offense in 2017. All four of them posted double-digit touchdowns in heir respective seasons. All of them were between 880 and 1080 receiving yards. There is a case for each individual season.
But our audience honed in on one, specifically, above the rest. L’Damian Washington clearly stands out above the rest.
It’s not hard to understand why the majority of readers went with Washington. First of all, his breakout year came in the season Mizzou fans remember most fondly over the last decade. He had significant moments in Missouri’s biggest wins that year: Washington was on the receiving end of Colt 45 in the Tigers’ upset at Georgia, he had a 40 yard reception on the first play of the game in what would eventually go down as a dominant win at home against Florida, and he posted nearly 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Tigers’ SEC East clinching victory against Texas A&M.
Washington was also incredibly charismatic, going down as one of the most beloved players - regardless of position - that I can recall in recent Missouri memory.
Washington would receive my vote, as well. However, if I were to make an argument for someone other than Washington, it would be Bud Saser’s remarkable year in 2014.
The context of Sasser’s season is what makes it so impressive. He posted more than 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns in a season in which he was clearly the top target on the team. The second leading receiver was Jimmie Hunt in a season in which he was merely fine. This was also an offense led by Maty Mauk in a season when Mauk barely completed more than 50 percent of his passes for fewer than 2,700 yards. The offense struggled mightily through the air when Sasser wasn’t involved.
All of this got me to thinking about the season Dominic Lovett is putting together. He’s on pace to finish a 12-game season with 68 receptions for 989 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He currently ranks second in the SEC in receptions per game (5.6) and receiving yards per game (82.4). The only other Mizzou wide receivers to finish ranked in the top 5 in the SEC in either category are Bud Sasser in 2014 (2nd in rec/gm- 5.5 & 4th in receiving yds/gm- 71.6) and J’Mon Moore in 2016 and 2017 (4th & 5th in rec/gm - 5.0/5.2 & 1st in receiving yards/gm - 83.2/84.3).
The context of this season for Lovett should also factor into the discussion. He’s doing this in an offense with a limited quarterback and a leaky offensive line as the clear-cut number one pass catcher. His game against South Carolina might be the best example of Lovett’s impact on this offense. He finished the game with 25 total snaps. Of those snaps, 19 were on pass plays. He was targeted on 10 of the 19 pass plays he was in the game for, and he caught all 10 pass attempts for 148 receiving yards. That is nothing short of spectacular.
There is plenty on the line for Missouri from a team perspective over the final month of the season, but Lovett will also be playing for personal accolades. When all is said and done, I think Lovett’s season will go down behind only Washington’s 2013 season among the best we’ve seen by a Missouri wide receiver in the last decade. His finish to the season could even put it above Washington’s season.