When it comes to wide receivers, Missouri has a type. That “type” is a slot wide receiver with speed, wiggle, and the ability to create yards after the catch. This appears to be by design. Missouri’s offense operates through a lot of quick game, relying on he pass catchers’ ability to win in the open field.
When it works, it looks great. When it doesn’t, well, it can look a bit bogged down. The importance of having multiple receivers who create after the catch or who can produce yardage on “gadget” plays can not be overstated. The goal was to have Dominic Lovett, Luther Burden III and Mekhi Miller in that role in 2023. That group is down Lovett, and suddenly the unit feels a bit light.
The upcoming recruiting class could help sooner rather than later. Joshua Manning is one of my favorite commits in this class. He has a different body type than most of Missouri’s current receivers, coming in at 6-foot-2 and nearly 200 pounds. Manning is the 4-star headliner in this wide receiver class. He’s not alone.
Don’t overlook Louisiana 3-star wide receiver commit Daniel Blood. Blood is a 4-year starter at Louisiana powerhouse Destrehan High School. His team is currently preparing to play in the 5-A state title game. He is one of the team’s most dynamic playmakers. He could soon hold a similar role for Missouri.
Blood’s commitment did not come with your typical fanfare. He’s a 3-star prospect out of Louisiana who flipped his committed from the University of Louisiana. On the surface, he looks like your typical Missouri receiver commit in recent years. He’s 6-foot-0, weighs about 175 pounds, and looks like a prototypical slot wide receiver. Turn on the film, though, and you’ll see something more.
Where he fits: Blood is a slot wide receiver. He fills that roll, and he fills it well. He creates consistent separation, runs crisp routes (a rarity among high school receivers) and he’s surprisingly physical at the catch point. This is no a player who shies away from contact. Quite the opposite, in fact. He embraces contact, despite his size.
Blood is also one hell of a punt returner. I’m not sure if he’ll wrestle that job away from Burden immediately, but it’s entirely possible he could. His skills as a returner are incredibly impressive. He’s confident as a receiver, makes guys miss in space and runs through contact. Blood could force his way into the returner conversation immediately, even if it takes him some time to adjust to the collegiate level at receiver.
When he’ll play: Starting as a true freshman receiver is incredibly rare, and shouldn’t be expected for just about anyone not named Luther Burden. Heck, getting on the field as a freshman at that position is an accomplishment. I could see Blood’s playing time resembling Miller’s from 2022. He could see the field and make a few splash plays that stick in fans’ minds throughout the offseason before ultimately becoming a bigger threat as part of the offense and return unit in 2024.
What it all means: I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect much when I pulled up Blood’s film. I expected it to be more of your dime-a-dozen gadget players the Tigers have considered in the past. He’s more than that. His playing style reminds me a bit of Johnathon Johnson’s. Johnson finished his Mizzou career with more than 2,500 all-purpose yards and 14 total touchdowns. That’s quite the career. He was a 4-year contributor, and a player who the Tigers could rely on in significant situations. We could see something similar from Blood when he arrives on campus.