Missouri quietly added a potential instant impact receiver late last week. His name is Demariyon Houston. You might recognize the name from his high school days when he held offers from just about every school you can think of.
Houston initially committed to Texas, but ultimately chose Nebraska late in the process. He redshirted in his first season at Nebraska in 2019, didn’t appear in a game in 2020 and decided to transfer to Hutchinson Community College after he found himself buried on the Huskers’ depth chart during the team’s 2021 Spring Game. He never appeared in a game for Big Red.
Houston’s first season at Hutchinson was solid if unspectacular. He finished with 19 receptions for 280 yards and three touchdowns. He finished the season strong with 10 receptions for 196 yards and two touchdowns in his final four games.
Where he fits: Houston is your typical “Z” receiver. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he wins with his speed. Boy, howdy, does Houston have some speed. He was a high school standout in track. He won three state titles as a senior, posting times of 10.7 in the 100 and 21.6 in the 200. His speed allows him to win in similar ways to current Missouri receivers Dominic Lovett and Mookie Cooper. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Houston lined up primarily in the slot with some limited opportunities outside likely coming on deep shots.
Houston’s speed opens up some opportunities in a number of different roles. He could be used as a “gadget” player with Drinkwitz finding ways to get him the ball in space. He could also be used in a similar role to how they used “Boo” Smith in recent years.
When he’ll play: You don’t add a player like Houston without having a specific role in mind for how you can use him right away. Houston has already burned his redshirt season and his “Covid year.” He’s going to play two seasons at JUCO, which should leave him with a maximum of two years to play at Mizzou. Eligibility is often a good way to predict impact. Why add a player for two seasons if you don’t expect him to play?
In a worst-case scenario, Houston fills the role vacated by Boo Smith. It seemed like every time Boo caught a pass last year it was a big play. He finished with 10 total touches offensively for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns. The only SEC wide receivers in the past five seasons with a better yards per reception (min. 8 receptions) than Smith’s (24.4) were Braylon Sanders (Ole Miss, 2020), Kam Scott (Missouri, 2018) and Emanuel Hall (Missouri, 2017). There’s a role for a speedster in this offense, even if it’s limited in scope. Houston could certainly fill that role.
What it all means: Missouri added another wide receiver who can come in and contribute right away. Barrett Banister is entering his final year of eligibility this fall. Tauskie Dove has one year left after 2022. Houston will be in the same “class” as Lovett, Cooper and Chance Luper.
Former NFL General Manager Mike Lombardi has always said you should build your receiver corps like you would build a basketball team. That group requires different skills for different roles, much like a basketball roster. The Tigers appear to be doing just that. Cooper is a typical “slot” receiver, similar to a point guard. Lovett, Luper and Houston are your “vertical threats” much like a shooter in basketball. Luther Burden wins with physicality at the catch point, similar to a power forward. Mekhi Miller and Tauskie Dove are both your slashers, winning with a combination of size and speed. Jamarion Wayne is going to win with his ability to go up and get it, similar to a post player winning above the rim.
Houston is the latest piece to the puzzle, adding another vertical threat to an offense that needs one to thrive.