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Is this the year that Luther Burden III becomes a star?

The young wide receiver had a promising, if uneven, first year. Does he break out in 2023?

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2023 season approaches, we’re asking our football staff to answer a series of questions facing the Mizzou Tigers. Read along to get their takes on who should start, who will shine and who will leave their mark on the season.

Almost two years later and it still gives me chills.

The hat toss? Magnificent. 10/10 form.

Luther Burden III’s presence has defined Mizzou Football over the past year. Every one of his stat lines has been analyzed to the finest detail and mined for some deeper philosophical inkling of Mizzou Football’s trajectory. His NIL deals have been scrutinized and taste-tested. His social media posts get their own Reddit-level deep dives on various social media outlets.

It may be hyperbolic to say that Luther Burden III is Mizzou Football — but he’s only one star-making season away from being able to make a worthy claim at the title. So let’s discuss...

Luther Burden had an exciting, if slightly uneven, freshman season in Columbia. Is this the year Luther Burden becomes a star?

Parker Gillam, Beat Writer: All signs point towards yes. The move to the slot should be extremely beneficial for Burden, as we learned last season that he does not excel in downfield, jump-ball scenarios against SEC-caliber defensive backs, at least as of now.

What we did learn is that there are few defenders in the country that can contain Burden in the open field, and the slot position will give him plenty of opportunities to make some magic happen. As the clear-cut WR No. 1, Drinkwitz and Moore will likely get Burden at least 10 targets per game by design, and it’s safe to assume that he’ll still be a factor on sweeps as well. After a full season of learning the college game and a full offseason of applying what he learned, expect Burden to live up to his 5-star billing and then some in ‘23. If that doesn’t become the case, then Mizzou likely has a disappointing season. His production will go hand-in-hand with the team’s performance as a whole.

Sammy Stava, Staff Writer: I think it’s fair to say that we should expect Luther Burden to form into a star this season in the SEC. Parker said it best, as Burden moving to the slot position will be huge for his development.

Last season as a freshman, the expectations were probably a little bit too high for Burden — but let’s not forget that he had multiple rushing, receiving, and a punt return for a touchdown. Remember, Dominic Lovett had that “breakthrough” type season last year that landed him on the second team All-SEC — so we should expect Burden to take that next step like Lovett did.

The quarterback play will certainly need to be improved to assist Burden — but there’s no doubt that he has all of the talent (and more experience) to become a star in this league.

Abilene Christian v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Quentin Corpuel, Staff Writer: (Draymond Green voice) Yup! And a lot of it has to do with how he’s likely going to be used in Kirby Moore’s offense.

When Moore said he wanted to mold his offense around the strengths of Mizzou’s personnel during his introductory press conference, the first thing I thought of was letting Burden create more after the catch. Too often was Burden used like Aidan Shaw, as the expectation seemed to be for Burden to dunk on defensive backs downfield. Rather, Luther was the biggest burden to defenses when he was used like Isiaih Mosley: get the ball in his hands with space, and let him do something cool.

Burden reminds me of a taller Golden Tate (without the showboating). Both are football wizards, connoisseurs of creating big plays after the catch when a five-yard gain seemed difficult. When Houdini gets put in the slot on Saturdays, there’s going to be a lot of magic from Burden in 2023.