True freshmen Damarea Crockett and Dimetrios Mason were two of the Missouri football team’s most talked about players in fall camp. On Saturday against visiting Delaware State both of the impressive newcomers had breakout performances.
Crockett, a running back, rushed for a career-high 115 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Mason, a wide receiver, established new career highs with eight catches for 120 yards.
“As a freshman, both of us, we talk about it all the time,” Mason said when asked about Crockett’s breakout game. “I tell him, ‘Man, this is you. You start it off and I’m going to be right behind you.’ I think it’s really good that he’s stepping up to the plate because sooner or later I feel like he might even have a starting role, so he has to be ready for it.”
Both players earned their spots on the depth chart early on in fall camp when they showed they were already ready to contribute to the offense.
Crockett, a 5-foot-11, 220-pounder from Arkansas, is behind co-starters Ish Witter and Alex Ross on the running back depth chart but is the Tigers’ leading rusher through four games with 210 yards — compared to 209 for Witter — on just 34 carries, an average of 6.2 per rush. (Witter, with 57 carries, is averaging 3.7 yards per attempt). Crockett’s three touchdowns also lead the RBs.
“I think he’s continuing to develop,” Missouri coach Barry Odom said of Crockett following the Tigers’ 79-0 win over Delaware State. “He’s a freshman running back that learns every day. There’s things in practice you see him do and you know he’s going to have a chance to be a really good player, but he’s got to work.
“He’s got to understand that he’s not the fastest guy on the field anymore. He’s got to get behind his pads, he’s got to put his foot in the ground and get North and South — there’s times that he can bounce it outside. But he’s continuing to get better. I think he’s gotten better even throughout this last week. There’s a little extra gear there that you see as he picks up and figures out the timing of some of the things we’re doing run scheme-wise. He’s got a little bit of power to him, too.”
Crockett sounds like a player who has learned a lot since he arrived on campus this summer and started working out with the rest of the team.
“It’s everything that I expected,” he said. “The game’s just much faster. The guys are bigger and faster. You’re not the fastest guy on the field anymore at all times. That’s the biggest adjustment.”
Crockett said his game experience the first four weeks has helped the game start to slow down for him.
“It’s just been slowing down because I’ve been able to get that experience, that on-the-field experience — playing my first Power 5 game away, playing my first Power 5 game home, the non-conference games, just all that stuff. I’ve just been learning week by week and just getting better.”
Mason, who became the sixth Tigers’ receiver to record a 100-yard receiving game this season, ranks second on the team with his 15 receptions and third on the squad with his 188 receiving yards. He trails only J'Mon Moore (26 receptions) in catches and Moore (434 receiving yards) and Emanuel Hall (241 receiving yards) in yardage.
“I just felt better today,” Mason said of his breakout performance. “We practiced harder this week. I’ve been going to the training room and taking care of my body and staying hydrated and everything.”
Mason, a 6-0, 185-pounder from Georgia, has enjoyed his role in the Tigers’ pass-happy offense.
“I’m really big on the little short routes. I just like them. I feel like the faster I get the ball in my hands the better off I’ll be. That’s one of the things that I really like. I like how we spread the ball around.”
Crockett and Mason are two of the eight true freshmen who have played for the Tigers so far this season, along with defensive tackle Markell Utsey, cornerbacks DeMarkus Acy and Christian Holmes, linebacker Cale Garrett, offensive lineman Tre'Vour Simms and kicker Tucker McCann.
Crockett is the first true freshman with a 100-yard rushing game for Missouri since Henry Josey vs. McNeese State in 2010, according to Missouri’s sports information department, and Mason is the first true freshman with more than 100 receiving yards in a game since Travis Garvin had 166 against Iowa State in 1999.
Crockett was asked afterward if his performance was his coming out party.
“I would say so,” he said. “You could call it that if you want to, but there’s still a lot more in store.”
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