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.
There’s no such thing as a one-man wide receiver room.
Jerry Rice had John Taylor and Terrell Owens. Randy Moss had Cris Carter. Marvin Harrison had Reggie Wayne. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt had... each other (plus Ricky Proehl).
The best wide receivers of all time had at least one co-star to back them up. You can argue that’s what made them so great — that defenses’ inability to single them out entirely allowed their preternatural gifts to shine. And if Mizzou thinks Luther Burden is going to be one of those guys — relatively speaking, of course, it’s a bit much to expect LB3 to become Jerry Rice — they’ll need someone else to step up and be the Goose or Iceman to his Maverick.
So let’s consider...
Luther Burden gets all the attention, but Mizzou has some intriguing pieces all around the receiver room. How dangerous are Mizzou’s wide receivers?
Parker Gillam, Beat Writer: Eliah Drinkwitz has gone on record to say the WR room is the deepest group on this team, which is a bold claim considering the talent that resides on the other side of the ball. But, there’s legitimate backing to it.
Luther Burden aside, there’s a lot to like about this group. Sophomore Mekhi Miller burst onto the scene towards the end of the season, highlighted by his pivotal third down reception to essentially ice the Arkansas game. The former 3-star recruit out of Topeka, KS has great hands and is a smooth route-runner, and he has plenty of room to come into his own as he plays in the slot alongside Burden in ‘23. Mookie Cooper has struggled with inconsistency and injuries through two years in Columbia, but the former Ohio State Buckeye has the kind of speed and elusiveness that you just can’t teach. If Cooper lives up to this potential, he could be the X-factor within the Tiger offense. Oklahoma transfer Theo Wease brings an experienced and proven presence to the WR room (1,044 career yards, 10 TDs). With Burden moving to the slot, Wease will likely be the primary jump-ball target for the Tigers with his 6-foot-3 frame and ability to win in the air. Joining him as a vertical threat is Ole Miss transfer Dennis Jackson, who has an argument to be the fastest player on the team.
Freshmen Josh Manning and Marquis Johnson are the future of the position group and have chances to prove themselves in the fall, while redshirt-senior Demaryion “Peanut” Houston showed promise in the bowl game with six catches, 39 yards and a touchdown. If this offense is to have success this season, Burden can not be the only household name from the wide receiver group. Luckily, there are plenty of worthy candidates to join him.
Quentin Corpuel, Staff Writer: I think there are two ways to measure how dangerous a wide receiver room is. One is how collectively good the receivers are at football.
I’ll pause for applause.
The other is how diverse the skillsets of each receiver are. Now, there’s an exception with teams like 2019 LSU, who had Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall, Jr. While Marshall obviously hasn’t ascended to the same level of superstardom that Jefferson and Chase have, all three were incredibly well-rounded and would’ve likely been the WR1 at every other school in the nation. They didn’t need diversity because they were that good. But 2019 LSU is an outlier in many ways.
Looking at Mizzou’s current WR room, there’s a ton of diversity. Luther Burden is the YAC Jesus/Jehovah/Buddha/Allah/whatever higher power you worship in the slot. On the outside, Mookie Cooper is the burner, and Theo Wease, Jr. is the anticipated jump ball-savant. Behind them sits a boatload of potential. Ole Miss transfer Dannis Jackson has scorching-hot speed. Mekhi Miller reminds me of Cooper, and Peanut Houston is also a blazer. Although freshman don’t usually play a ton, Josh Manning and Daniel Blood are both big, fast and can do a little bit of everything. These receivers excel at a lot of different things, which makes this room pretty dangerous to me.
Jaden Lewis, Beat Writer: I look at the wide receiver room as a glass half-full because of the potential that it has. Of course, Luther Burden is on a star trajectory, and we saw that when the ball was in his hands last year, whether it was him lining up in the backfield, running end-around, or just lining up at the wide receiver position...and he’s on a mission to win Heisman this season.
But there’s more to this room than just Burden. MU landed two-former five-star recruits in Theo Wease and Dannis Jackson, who at times both showed flashes at Oklahoma and Ole Miss. I believe Mookie Cooper and/or Mekhi Miller are poised to take steps forward, while Demariyon “Peanut” Houston came around in the bowl game. Also, Chance Luper returns and recruits Joshua Manning, Marquis Johnson, and Daniel Blood come in as recruits. There’s plenty of options in this receiving room, and it will come down to improved play by both the quarterback and an offensive line to give him enough time to deliver.