Mizzou’s pass-catching conundrum

The Missouri Tigers astonished the college football world last year as they finished the regular season 11-1 and reigned high as SEC East Champions. There is excitement abound in Columbia, MO as the Tigers are getting set to gear up for the 2014 season in hopes of defending their east crown.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk has sizeable expectations to become the next big thing at QB for Mizzou, coming off  a season in which he threw for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns while filling in for an injured James Franklin.

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A balanced offense highlighted by a high-flying passing attacked certainly keyed Mizzou’s success a year ago. The Tigers had three different receivers catch over 50 balls a year ago, and quarterbacks James Franklin and Maty Mauk helped exploit the talented receiving corps ludicrous height differential (starters averaged 6’5) all season long. Lost to graduation, however are incumbent starters Marcus Lucas and L’Damian Washington who combined for over 100 catches and nearly 1,600 yards a year ago. The biggest hit came in the form of former 5 star player Dorial Green-Beckham being dismissed from the team this past spring following several scrapes with the law. DGB was an unbelievable talent whose star had still yet to shine its brightest. He wound up transferring to Oklahoma this offseason, although it is still unknown as to whether or not he will be eligible to play football this season.

In fact, 73% of Missouri’s pass- catching production from a year ago will have to be replaced. Of the 31 touchdowns hauled in by Tigers in 2013, 26 of them were nabbed by departing players. For Maty Mauk to live up to the hype and expectations that have been placed on him, it will be imperative that Mizzou’s largely unproven group of receivers rise to the challenge.

Receivers Looking to Make Their Mark

 

5263232062d32.preview-500Bud Sasser (senior, 6’2 210 lbs. Denton, TX). Sasser is Mizzou’s leading returning receiver and showed tremendous flashes a year ago hauling in 26 passes for 361 yards and a touchdown. Sasser also threw for a touchdown during a pivotal moment in the Georgia game that helped seal a Tiger victory. Sasser has solid experience and will enter fall practice as a starter. He is not a burner but should be a reliable pass catcher and has a chance to lead the team in receptions this fall.

huntJimmie Hunt (senior, 6’1 215 lbs, Caihokia, IL). Hunt adds a big-playmaking ability to Mizzou’s offense. He can stretch the field and has excellent speed which should open things up for the rest of the receivers. He grabbed 22 balls a year ago for 253 yards and a touchdown but also caught 3 TD’s in 2012 and ran a kickoff back against Tennessee. 2014 should be Hunt’s time to shine in Missouri’s offense as quarterback Maty Mauk will likely look to go downfield more than James Franklin did.

darius-white-mu-vs-indiana-1Darius White (rs senior, 6’3, 205 lbs, Ford Worth, TX). White is a former 5 star prospect who went to Texas out of high school. He has yet to realize his potential but he will have every opportunity to rise to the occasion in 2014. He did have 7 catches and a touchdown a season ago; a year where playing time at the receiving position was extremely scarce. White could be the most important receiver this season as he possesses blue-chip skills that could be a huge asset to the team going forward.

2627709Levi Copelin (rs sophomore, 6’2, 190 lbs, Broken Arrow, OK). Copelin is a versatile athlete and has shown flashes of promise early in his career. He only had 3 catches a season ago, but made a highlight-reel catch against Toledo early in the year. Copelin has had difficulty staying out of trouble while at Mizzou and will need to do so to realize his full potential. He has been compared to former Tiger standout T.J. Moe and possesses similar toughness. Copelin is currently second on the depth chart at the Y-receiver position and could play a large role this season.

1381609736000-USATSI-7486653Sean Culkin (rs sophomore, 6’6 245 lbs, Indian Rocks Beach, FL). It has been a few years since anyone has made a splash at the tight end position at Mizzou. Rs sophomore Sean Culkin can certainly change that as his 6’6, 245 pound frame could be a red-zone nightmare for defenders. He is athletic for his size and is also a viable blocker. Culkin had a catch for seven yards last season but look for those numbers to increase astronomically in 2014.

Mizzou Football Media DayWesley Leftwich (rs junior 6’1 200 lbs, Columbia, MO). Leftwich saw his first game action as a Tiger last season in the Kentucky game and although he has yet to catch a pass, he will have opportunities this season to change that. Leftwich possesses elite speed and could be a factor for Mizzou this season coming off a solid spring.

 

Mizzou Football Media DayGavin Otte (senior, 5’10 200 lbs, Rolla, MO). Otte, a senior walk-on, has done nothing but wow coaches and teammates in practice. His hard work and determination could pay off this season as Mizzou is in dire need of players stepping up at the receiver position. Otte could find himself on the field frequently this fall as he continues to rise up the depth chart.

Mizzou Football Media DayJ’Mon Moore (rs freshman, 6’3 190 lbs, Missouri City, TX). Listed second on the depth chart a the Z-receiver position, Moore will have every opportunity to establish himself very early in his Mizzou career. He has a great combination of size, speed and athleticism and definitely made a splash during spring workouts. 

Avatar of Clint Switzer
Full-time sports fan, part-time contributor to society. GASN Sports co-founder, podcast host, filmmaker and writer.

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