Heading into fall camp 2013, the expectation is that Missouri’s receiving corps is a position of team strength. Certainly, Coach Pat Washington’s group includes a number of quality play makers, and under his tutelage this off-season, they’ve made noticeable improvement.
No Missouri receiver is as dramatically improved from a year ago as is sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham. As a true freshman, he really came on toward the end of last season, and he showed more than just flashes of his considerable ability, finishing with 28 receptions for 395 yards and 5 TDs. But the improvement that Green-Beckham has displayed since last season is just remarkable. Of course, Green-Beckham is the most talented of Missouri’s receivers, and improvement was expected. But to see such dramatic improvement unfold is just very impressive!
Heading into fall camp, Green-Beckham has clearly established himself as Missouri’s number one receiver. He was by far the Tigers’ leading receiver during the spring, and he’s continued to dominate from his starting position on the outside, where he’s simply a physical mismatch for the corners typically assigned to cover him.
“Dorial (Green-Beckham) had a great spring,” said Coach Pinkel. “I mean, he’s a different player, now; just his maturity, naturally. I think you look back at a number of players that we’ve had here in the past, you know, Danario Alexander, that you’re saying, he’s a pretty good player, a pretty good player. Then all of a sudden, he’s a different level guy! And that’s what Dorial is showing right now, that he can be that different level guy right now.”
On a team where the receiver position is expected to be a strength of the team, and where most of Missouri’s top receivers are fourth and fifth-year players, it’s a testimony to Green-Beckham’s talent and to the improvement in his on-field production that we can say most assuredly that the second-year player will be Missouri’s top receiver this season.
There’s another second year receiver whom I believe will significantly impact Missouri’s passing game this year, and that’s red-shirt freshman tight end Sean Culkin. It remains to be seen how new Offensive Coordinator Josh Henson intends to utilize Missouri’s tight ends, but Culkin is just such a terrific receiver that I feel certain that we’re going to see a lot of him, and that he’s going to be catching a lot of balls.
Culkin may enter camp listed second on the depth chart behind 5th-year senior TE Eric Waters. But, I expect that by the time the season begins, Culkin will have become a big part of Missouri’s passing attack.
In the spring, when Culkin was not on the field, the Tigers moved Marcus Lucas inside, and he lined up in the slot at the Y-receiver position. Lucas is one of Missouri’s most experienced receivers, having played mostly on the outside, and he’ll be seeing a lot of action at multiple receiver positions. For his career, Lucas has 72 receptions for 946 yards and 8 TDs.
Another very experienced receiver for Missouri is 5th-year senior L’Damian Washington. The speedster can get behind the defense and take it the distance. He enters his final season at Missouri with 50 career receptions for 842 yards and 5 TDs. Over the past couple of seasons, Washington and Lucas have developed quite a bit of chemistry with QB James Franklin.
The Tigers have a pair of juniors in the slot, where Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt top the depth chart. Sasser made 6 starts a year ago, and for his career he has 13 receptions for 247 yards and 1 TD. Sasser has logged time at all four WR positions. I have high expectations for Hunt, who has played sparingly thus far at Missouri, but has been very productive in his limited playing time, with 12 career receptions for 253 yards and 4 TDs. He’s also returned 7 kicks for 168 yards and 1 TD. Hunt is also considered to be Missouri’s best perimeter blocker.
Those are the five wide receivers who figure to receive the bulk of the playing time this season. In addition, Levi Copelin, Darius White, and Jaleel Clark will each challenge for playing time. Copelin has really improved over the past year. He's had a great off-season, and he might just force his way into the rotation.
At tight end, Waters will also see action, and Jason Reese could mount a challenge to see the field as a true freshman.
Another speedster, the hard-working Wesley Leftwich, will continue to mount a challenge to the two-deep, and we’ll get our first look at the very talented J’Mon Moore.
81 Eric Waters 6’4” 245 (S)
80 Sean Culkin 6’6” 245 (RSF)
46 Kyle Peasel 6'3" 230 (S)
98 Clayton Echard 6’5” 260 (So)
84 Brandon Colbert 6’3” 225 (J)
89 Tyler Hanneke 6’4” 230 (RSF)
Jason Reese 6’3” 230 (F)
X WR 15 Dorial Green-Beckham 6’6” 220 (So)
18 Wesley Leftwich 6’1” 195 (So)
26 Jake Brents 6’3” 200 (RSF)
5 James Driscoll 5’10” 165 (So)
J'Mon Moore 6’3” 185 (F)
85 Marcus Lucas 6’5” 220 (S)
21 Bud Sasser 6’2” 210 (J)
88 Jimmie Hunt 6’0” 215 (J)
16 Levi Copelin 6’2” 200 (RSF)
17 Sheldon Gerau 6’0” 200 (So)
87 Gavin Otte 5’11” 200 (J)
2 L'Damian Washington 6’4” 200 (S)
14 Jaleel Clark 6’4” 220 (S)
8 Darius White 6’3” 200 (J)
43 Cameron Chancey 6’0” 180 (So)
38 Reid Swearingen 6’3” 190 (RSF)