If you’re like me, and believe that Missouri is going to turn some heads this year, there are a few reasons that you would point to. You could look at their schedule, which isn’t easy but also isn’t a murderer’s row. You could look at the quarterback room and say that while there isn’t a proven option, there is a lot of talent in the room. There is another reason Missouri should be taken more seriously, though: This Wide Receiving corps has the potential to be one of the best in the SEC.
I know, I know. This sounds like hyperbole. However, if you look closely, you can see exactly what I mean.
To begin, this group has two veteran receivers who are entering their redshirt senior seasons. Both Barrett Banister and Tauskie Dove are holdovers from the Odom era who have found themselves back for one more go around and it’s a good thing they’re here. They provide not just quality play at the position, but also leadership that is needed for a corps that skews towards the younger side.
The Wild Cards
- Back for his third season at Missouri, Chance Luper is another quality receiver who has shown flashes of explosiveness in his time. One has to wonder if this is the year he breaks through and earns more consistent snaps to display more of that ability.
- Demariyon Houston, a late commitment out of Hutchinson CC, has all of the speed in the world. He can be used in a real way to stretch defenses and as a nice piece of the “eye candy” game that Drinkwitz likes to play.
The First Years
- Mekhi Miller comes to Missouri as a speedster out of Kansas who has a lot to like in his game. He is rather fluid and has strong hands for such a young kid. Will he crack the depth chart? It will be difficult, but Miller can play. He’s an interesting piece going forward.
- Ja’Marion Wayne comes from Parkway West in St. Louis, and comes to Missouri in the same boat as his classmate above. Very talented, electric with the ball in his hands but as a true freshman it may be difficult to crack the depth chart. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wayne see some time on special teams.
The Talk of The Town
All of the guys discussed to this point are capable players. Guys who could play and play well at the SEC level in the right role. The next three guys, though, are what rounds this room as a whole into form and gives Missouri what should be a dangerous grouping.
Mookie Cooper, Dominic Lovett and Luther Burden III are going to be a big part of what makes this offense move. These three have the right combination of speed, size and skill to make defenses go silly.
Cooper is going to be back healthy and another year better. He was able to shake off some of the rust of going multiple years without playing in an actual game. He displayed some of the ability that made him such a highly touted player out of high school.
Lovett in his first year showed that he is a gifted route runner with plenty of explosion and run after catch ability to his game. As a sophomore, he should be able to make a leap and continue growing.
Finally, Burden comes in with all of the hype in the world and if you saw him in Missouri’s spring game, you’d see why. He looked like the best player on the field as a kid who should’ve been finishing up his senior year in high school. The burst, the speed… is absolutely scary.
He’s going to be what opens a lot of other things for everyone else. Burden will command that type of attention and I’d imagine he’ll be successful. Expectations are high for him, but it’s only because it’s very evident what he can become.
In seasons past, a big issue in the wide receiver room has been creating separation. There haven’t been enough “plus” players to make it happen, and it has affected the offense in a real way. That shouldn’t be an issue any longer; they have the horses.
For Missouri to make some noise this year, this group is going to have to produce. Simply put, there just needs to be more production. That’s obviously a two-way street with the quarterback, but this group has the ability to enhance whoever is behind center. There is that much talent in that room. They have a nice mix of youth, depth, experience and explosion. A good season from this group, could have Missouri punching above its weight class this year.