The past couple of weeks, a pair of young receivers have been seeing more playing time for Missouri, as they’ve stepped up their play in practice, and have earned more opportunities.
ShowMeMizzou.com has taken notice of the improved play, and the increasing role, of red-shirt freshman tight end Jason Reese and true freshman wide receiver Nate Brown. Against Vanderbilt, Brown made his first career reception on a wide receiver screen. He’s also done a good job with his perimeter blocking. Reese has really stepped up and has really impressed with the consistency and effectiveness of his blocking. Both players have earned more playing time, and their effectiveness suggests there may be even more playing time going forward.
Earlier this week, Coach Pinkel said that Brown and Reese have been getting better.
“(Brown) is getting better,” said Coach Pinkel. “Nate, we got him more involved a little bit. He’s doing some good things on kicking game. You can just see him getting a lot better in practice. Jason Reese, a young tight end, he’s doing some good things. They’re playing a little more. You know, it’s just weeks and weeks of practice. We’re going to need those guys to step it up a little bit………………………………………….. Receiver is just a difficult position to learn. And the tight end has got to do both. He’s got to do the outside things, and inside. It’s just a lot of things. It’s not like it used to be, when you just ran a post route, an out route, and in route, and a drag route. It’s just much more complex, and the details, and attention to details of it.”
ShowMeMizzou.com asked Missouri Offensive Coordinator Josh Henson for his assessment of the recent play of the two youngsters?
“Jason Reese is doing real well,” said Coach Henson. “I think he’s getting better every week. He’s pretty physical. He’s really talented. You know, I think once Jason really gets a hold and a grasp of everything, where he’s got it down pat, he can be a really, really good player. I think when you look at next year, you know, he and Sean (Culkin) are going to be a really nice one-two punch there at tight end.”
“I think Nate Brown has really improved, and is getting better,” continued Coach Henson. “We’re going to continue to see him more and more. He’s obviously talented. You know, a bright guy, knows what he’s doing. I think the more reps he gets, the better he’ll get.”
ShowMeMizzou.com also talked to Reese and Brown to get their thoughts.
“They’re putting me in the game right now to block,” said Reese, who of late has been on the field for about one-fourth of Missouri’s offensive plays. “I’m trying to do the best I can………………………………… Hopefully, the (receptions) will come.”
Reese said that he’s been working on his blocking.
“I’ve always got room for improvement,” said Reese. “But I definitely think that I’ve improved (on blocking) from last year to this year…………………………………….. I’ve wanted to improve that about my game, to be more physical.”
Reese said that his blocking has made a positive impression on the coaching staff.
“My position coach told me that I’m really impressing the coaching staff,” said Reese. “You know, Coach Pinkel comes and gives me some encouragement sometimes. That really helps.”
Reese knows that Missouri has played with a pair of tight ends on the field in the past.
“Hopefully, we can bring that back,” said Reese.
It’s taken a little more time for Nate Brown to get to where he’s seeing more action than maybe he had expected. But now, he’s more understanding.
“It takes time,” said Brown, talking about his development. “I’m not just going to go from zero to a hundred. I mean, I’m going to continue to work, and continue to get better, and not be satisfied.”
Brown said that the defensive backs in the SEC are better than the ones he faced in high school.
“I’m working on my speed, and just route running,” explained Brown. “Because the DBs at this level are a lot quicker and a lot faster, especially coming from high school straight to the SEC…………………………………….. (But), good things come from hard work.”
Brown said that he’s played at both the X and the Z WR positions. With all of the variable routes, there’s a lot to learn.
“We spend a lot of time just going through each week like what are their main coverages,” explained Brown. “Who plays where? Who’s going to be where? Just trying to know, so we have an idea of what to look for once we’re out there.”
In addition to the work he’s put in learning everything, Brown looks more physically fit, although he weighs the same as he did in fall camp.
“I feel like I’m just more fit,” said Brown, who’s been working hard to improve not only his speed, but also the speed with which he plays.