Missouri Freshman Running Back Damarea Crockett Impresses Early

Freshman running back Damarea Crockett has impressed early in training camp.

It’s still early, very early, in the Missouri football team's fall training camp but freshman running back Damarea Crockett is already drawing praise from his coaches and teammates. 

Crockett, from Little Rock, Ark., was committed to Boise State until late January when he flipped to Missouri and then signed with the Tigers a few days later. It’s early, but it looks like the three-star prospect is better than advertised. 

“I want him on defense and they want him on offense,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said on Saturday, later noting that Crockett will not be switching to defense. “For three days he’s done a lot of really good things. Coach (Ryan) Walters recruited him and knew that he had some special skills and then you get him into camp and you get him in that situation and put the ball in his hands he’s an explosive player. Still, he’s three days in, he’s got a lot to learn, but he’s got a different gear.”

The 5-foot-11 running back arrived on campus earlier this summer weighing approximately 210 pounds, which is what he’s listed at on the Tigers’ roster. But he’s gotten bigger and stronger since and now weighs in at 225 pounds. 

Missouri running backs coach Cornell Ford was asked Saturday what has impressed him about the freshman tailback. 

“Man, his size,” Ford said. “He’s so strong and he’s got a lot of athleticism. He’s got a lot of burst to him for a guy that size. Honestly he’s heavier than (Alex) Ross. He’s a legit 225 and can run and move. We haven’t had a running back around here like that in a long time.”

Crockett was probably the least heralded of the Tigers’ three new running backs, including senior graduate transfer Alex Ross from Oklahoma and junior college transfer Natereace Strong

Together that trio was expected to replenish and revitalize a depleted running back corps while also adding size and speed. 

“They are very good,” Missouri senior middle linebacker Michael Scherer said when asked about the newcomers. “Even though they are bigger, more physical guys they still can move very well. They’re not just the big, downhill tanks. 

“Especially Crockett, the freshman. He can make some moves. He’s got some quick feet. I watched him work out in the summer. So even though they are big they still have that speed and that breakaway (ability). They have the ability to make big plays, even though they are bigger backs.”

The Tigers under Gary Pinkel mostly featured smaller and quicker running backs, speedy guys like Henry Josey and Russell Hansbrough. Last year’s leading rusher, junior Ish Witter, fits that mild. Ross, Strong and Crockett certainly do not.

“They are definitely bigger backs than what you’re used to seeing at Mizzou,” Scherer sad.

How the depth chart at running back shakes out remains to be seen, but the newcomers have added something to the mix.

“I think they’re right where we want them to be right now,” Ford said. “We still have a long ways to go. We’re still putting the offense in and they’re still learning it. They all have the potential to be touch it once and go the distance and that’s what we’re looking for, that explosiveness out of that position.”

The rushing attack was a sore spot for Missouri in 2015. 

The Tigers just 1,385 yards rushing, an average of 115.4 yards per game on the ground, and tallied just five rushing touchdowns. Witter, the leading rusher, gained 518 yards rushing, averaging 4.1 yards per carry, and scored one touchdown.

Gone from a year ago are Hansbrough, Tyler Hunt, Chase Abbington and Marquis Doherty. Hansbrough and Hunt used up their eligibility while Abbington and Doherty both opted to transfer.

After having only a few running backs on the practice field this spring, now Ford has a bigger group to work with and a group of players with who have different skill sets. 

“We have a little bit of everything,” Ford said. “We’ve got some size. We definitely have some speed there as well. Now it’s just a matter of building the knowledge and experience. We think we’ve got guys that can come in and help us in an immediate time factor. We’re excited about them.”


You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at

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