Missouri has a long line of players who have excelled at their respective positions and have individual traits that help make them stand out. You know, like Drew Lock’s arm strength or the athletic ability and quick twitch of a guy like Sheldon Richardson.
Which is a good starting point for this question: How would you build your ideal player? We’ll start this week with the wide outs.
The makings of the best wide receivers are broken down to these categories:
- Route Running
Athleticism: Justin Gage; 1999-2002
Wide receiver is a position where you’ll see some of the top athletic specimens in the game of football. There’s so much fluidity and speed. The choices for this category were all really close, but I chose the two-sport athlete in Gage.
First of all, Gage arrived to Missouri as a quarterback as a freshman but soon switched to wide receiver. As soon as he made the change he pretty much was awesome. He had this giant frame coupled with the speed to run with almost anyone. He was terrific in this three seasons and left with the most career yards in history. At the very same time though, Gage was also playing on the Missouri Basketball team in the winter. Gage played for three years as a reserve and was on a team that made it to the elite eight.
Route Running & Hands: Jeremy Maclin; 2007-2008
Maclin was my choice in the two categories here and truthfully he was considered in all of these categories. He was one of the few guys who was consistently thought of as the best, or close to the best in all of the categories.
Off the line of scrimmage, Maclin was as quick as anyone I’ve seen and was exceptional at running all of the different routes in the route tree and doing it fluidly. He also was really good at recognizing zone coverage, finding the window, and sitting down for the quarterback to hit him.
As far as his hands, in the two seasons with the volume he got, he was ridiculously consistent in catching the ball and in bringing it in to his body. He made catches in space, he made catches in traffic, he made catches really, everywhere. The key word here is consistency, because with all of the passes thrown his way you really can’t remember a drop from him.
Explosiveness: Danario Alexander; 2006-2009
Some may think this is a “hot take” but this was a toss up between Alexander and the aforementioned Maclin. I would absolutely understand if one thought Maclin was more explosive, however I chose Alexander because I think at his very peak he’s possibly the most explosive player we’ve seen at Mizzou.
Alexander was tall, with long arms and a big frame, and he also had an insane vertical jump. His large catch radius gave his QB’s so much more wiggle room on where a ball could be delivered and when it was...
If there’s on game that kind of encapsulates what I’m talking about, it’s this one right here. This here, was explosive: