Heading into the spring, Missouri is thin at wide receiver, where the Tigers return just seven scholarship players. In February, Missouri signed six wide receivers and a tight end, so they're prepared to replenish their numbers at these receiver positions this summer. But for now, there are opportunities for some new faces to get some second-team reps this spring.
ShowMeMizzou.com takes a pre-spring look at the leading candidates to populate the two-deep this spring at Missouri's wide receiver and tight end positions.
Junior Dorial Green-Beckham is coming off of a strong 2013 season in which the mega-talented wide-out earned 2nd-Team All-SEC honors. During 2013, Green-Beckham totaled 59 receptions for 883 yards and 12 TDs. He has developed into a very good edge blocker, as well as a big-play receiver. He returns as Missouri's unquestioned number one receiver. Yet for all of his accomplishments, Green-Beckham has not yet reached the level performance and productivity of the elite status commensurate with his immense natural ability. This would be a good year for that to happen, and he will have the opportunity to become the Tigers go to option at receiver.
Missouri's second-leading returning receiver is senior Bud Sasser, who in 2013 finished with 26 receptions for 361 yards and 1 TD. During his time at Missouri, Sasser has played all four wide receiver positions for the Tigers. It's that versatility that not only makes him a candidate to play any of the Tigers' four receiver positions, but which also makes him a very valuable asset to the team. Because of his versatility, you can expect to see Sasser taking reps this spring at multiple receiver positions, including on the inside as well as on the outside.
Senior slot receiver Jimmie Hunt closed out the 2013 season with 22 receptions for 253 yards and 1 TD. Hunt is undeniably Missouri's best perimeter blocker, and he's also a very reliable receiver with the ability to make people miss after the catch in the open field.
There's a couple of other returning wide outs who were a part of Missouri's regular rotation a year ago, but who come into this spring with significantly less experience and past production than that of the Tigers' top three wide receivers.
Senior Darius White is expected to step forward and compete for a starting job this spring. White is another versatile receiver, but one who is likely to line up on the outside, probably opposite Green-Beckham, this spring. Last season, White totaled 7 receptions for 76 yards and 1 TD.
It appears to me that White's primary competition for a starting job will come from red-shirt freshman J'Mon Moore. Moore is a very talented receiver who made a strong positive impression last August. He'll definitely be in the mix this spring.
Sophomore Levi Copelin played in the slot last season, and he totaled 3 receptions for 61 yards. This spring, Copelin will likely see action at both inside receiver positions. In addition, he is also in the mix as a punt returner for Mizzou.
Sophomore TE Sean Culkin made 1 start at TE last season, and he finished the season with 1 reception for 6 yards. This is Culkin's time to establish himself as Missouri's number one TE. His primary challenge is likely to come from red-shirt freshman Jason Reese, who made a very strong impression last fall.
The following is my best projection of what the Depth Chart may look like at TE and WR to begin the spring:
80 Sean Culkin 6'6" 245 (So)
98 Clayton Echard 6'5" 260 (J)
82 Jason Reese 6'3" 240 (RSF)
89 Tyler Hanneke 6'4" 230 (So)
88 Jimmie Hunt 6'0" 215 (S)
84 Gavin Otte 5'11" 200 (S)
38 Nicalus Rhone 5'10 170 (So)
James Taylor 5'11" 170 (RSF)
15 Dorial Green-Beckham 6'6" 227 (J)
18 Wesley Leftwich 6'1" 200 (J)
26 Jake Brents 6'3" 205 (So)
43 Cameron Chancey 6'0" 180 (J)
H WR 21 Bud Sasser 6'2" 210 (S)
16 Levi Copelin 6'2" 195 (So)
41 Aaron Bailey 5'9" 165 (So )
5 James Driskell 5'10" 185 (J)
8 Darius White 6'3" 205 (S)
4 J'Mon Moore 6'3" 190 (RSF)
41 Eric Laurent 6'3" 215 (So)
17 Sheldon Gerau 6'0" 205 (J)
Junior TE Clayton Echard saw considerable action last season as a second TE in short-yardage and goal line situations.
And, there are two other returning wide receivers who saw limited action for Missouri last season, including Wesley Leftwich and Gavin Otte. This spring will provide each of these receivers with an opportunity to become established in the receiver rotation heading into fall camp.
The two most heated competitions at receiver may come from the competition for a starting WR spot between White and Moore, and the competition for the starting TE job between Culkin and Reese. will certainly bare watching the progress of these two very talented red-shirt freshmen.