I was curious to see how Missouri would use the former blue chip wide receiver out of East St. Louis. Would he get manufactured touches? Would he line up in the slot? What was the plan?
No, I’m not talking about Luther Burden.
I’m talking about Dominic Lovett. He was a top-50 wide receiver in the 2021 recruiting class. At the time, Lovett was the highest rated receiver to sign with Missouri since Dorial Green-Beckham. He was a massive recruiting win for Eli Drinkwitz. And then Lovett’s freshman year mostly came and went without much fan fare. He finished the season with just one touchdown and just over 200 yards from scrimmage, with less than 100 yards coming in the final eight weeks of the season. To say it was a grind of a freshman season would be putting it lightly.
But, he was a freshman. The coaching staff was asking a lot of Lovett to be an instant contributor. He was also bouncing all over positionally, lining up both in the slot and out wide. The game seemed to move quick for him, and things avalanched from there.
Fast forward to year two. There was real anticipation to see what would change. Would his role remain the same? Would the game continue moving fast? One game in, it certainly seems like the answer to both questions is a resounding, “absolutely not.”
Lovett looked against Louisiana Tech the way he did at East St. Louis. He was lining up in the slot. Eli Drinkwitz got him involved early and often on manufactured touches with some screens and jet sweeps. Lovett added some big plays through the air, as well, as the game progressed.
In the end, Lovett set a new career-high against Louisiana Tech with six receptions and 94 yards from scrimmage. His 76 receiving yards were his most in an individual game against an FBS opponent.
The excitement surrounding Luther Burden is palpable. He looked every bit the part of the recruit he’s been hyped up to be. But Missouri’s offense can not rely exclusively on one playmaker in the passing game. As good as Burden is, teams can scheme away any individual pass-catcher. That’s where Lovett comes in.
Q: “What held Dominic Lovett back last season?”— Jack Soble (@jacksoble56) March 21, 2022
Drinkwitz: “Me.” Said he tried too hard to move him around, and sticking him at slot receiver has paid off. #Mizzou
I understand the hype for Burden. Every ounce of it is deserved. But it was also somewhat expected. If there was one pass catcher in the first week of the season who surprised, it was Lovett. He looked like a different player. He looked like the player the Tigers are going to need him to be.