Darren Hellwege, Sports Commentator
As we get ready for Mizzou’s 2012 football season, there will be some things we know. James Franklin is a good quarterback in any league. And regardless of who is on the other side of the ball, Elvis Fisher can block.
But in other positions, we’re less certain, and one of them is wide receiver. There is a difference between Big 12 defenses and SEC defenses and in the secondary is one of the places you find the biggest gap. Several of the teams Mizzou will play this year have corners and safeties that are above and beyond any they’ve faced in the past. Missouri’s wide receivers will be under pressure to step up and perform.
Fortunately, there is a great deal of depth, from experienced stars to the best high school football player in the nation.
Let’s start with the old hands returning…
T.J. Moe: A true team leader, I have a feeling the whole discussion about whether or not MU’s receivers can make the grade in the SEC will not be appreciated by Moe and that he’ll show up Thursday with a snootful of determination. It’s his last year in black and gold, and the all-Big 12 wideout will continue to play with maximum effort. He isn’t a blazer but makes catches and makes things happen after the catch.
Marcus Lucas (85) during the first half of the spring game on Saturday, April 14, 2012.
Marcus Lucas: Showed up big time in the Black and Gold scrimmage, and has speed to become a big play target. His size will be a big asset against the SEC d-backs.
L’Damian Washington: Speaking of size, the 6-foot-four-inch Washington led the team with more than 18 yards per catch last year and has the speed to compete against the quicker defenses in the Deep South.
Gahn McGaffie: Named the most improved WR in spring drills, McGaffie is flexible enough to play any of the receiver positions, which is helpful. Also contributes on special teams, as any Tiger fan can tell you. His touchdown on the opening kickoff of the 2010 Homecoming game against Oklahoma remains an all-time great moment in Tiger football history.
Bud Sasser: A big, strong guy who can play tight end or the Z-receiver position. Lot of potential and has all the tools with good hands, size, speed, runs a good route. Just needs to get out there and perform.
Jimmie Hunt: Another sophomore like Sasser, has huge potential. Led team with 110 yards receiving in the Black and Gold game.
The team has more depth, with guys like Rolando Woodland and Jaleel Clark providing even more bench strength. If they want to contribute more than occasionally, they need to step it up now because the Tigers added some new names to the mix in the offseason, including the guy who is known statewide by his initials even before he ever set foot on a college field, DGB.
Dorial Green-Beckham: The nation’s No. 1 recruit has superstar written all over him and could well play a part in Missouri moving up to the next level nationally in the sport. The only question is how soon will the potential be realized, but I have a suspicion that when things start on Sept. 1 Gary Pinkel will not be able to say no to the temptation of putting DGB on the field as a starter. He’s huge (6 feet 6 inches) and has every tool you could want as far as ability, hands, he goes and gets the ball and makes plays with his feet, too. As a coach’s son, he gets the game and we hear he brings in a fine attitude. The sky is the limit.
Darius White: Because of the recruitment of Green-Beckham there’s been little said of White, who will sit out the 2012 season and play as a junior in 2013. But he’s another guy with enormous potential, and was the No. 3 wide receiver recruit in the nation coming out of high school. The high school All-American played two seasons at Texas before deciding to transfer to Missouri. While he didn’t do a lot in the burnt orange, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for young receivers to get on the field, either. I have a feeling that a set of White with Green-Beckham and Lucas could be the best receiver corps in the SEC next season, which might well make it the nation’s best. Add in tight end Eric Waters, and quarterback Franklin will have an embarrassment of riches to throw to this year.
Tomorrow: Indications are that Henry Josey’s knee injury will keep last year’s surprise superstar off the field in 2012. But there are still some very good running backs, including a pair of seniors.