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February 17, 2011
Missouri opens spring football practice in less than three weeks. Leading up to the first practice, PowerMizzou.com will give Tiger fans an in-depth look at the roster at each position. We will also have a series of articles highlighting some of the major storylines to follow this spring. Today, we take a look at the receiving corps.
The Starters: Missouri brings back all three starters from last year's team. T.J. Moe led the Tigers in catches (92), yards (1045) and touchdowns (6). He was clearly Blaine Gabbert's favorite target and the most reliable receiver on the team. Jerrell Jackson had 50 catches for 656 yards and three scores, highlighted by a 145-yard performance in the win over Oklahoma. But Jackson did have some drops during the year. Wes Kemp is probably the best blocker in the group and had some big moments during the year, particularly in a 10-catch game at Texas A&M. However, Kemp's season totals were just 39 grabs for 420 yards.
The Challengers: Rolandis Woodland showed flashes last year and will enter spring ball in the mix for playing time. Gahn McGaffie, Brandon Gerau and L'Damian Washington all saw action last season, but none had more than seven catches. Marcus Lucas saw time as a true freshman and progressed nicely throughout the season. The biggest intrigue will likely come from Lucas and redshirt freshmen Jimmie Hunt and Bud Sasser. All three are expected to push for playing time, and perhaps even starting positions. Missouri lacked a true big-play threat in the passing game last season. If one of the three young guys can give them that, he could have a breakout season.
Major Spring Storyline: It has to be Hunt, Sasser and Lucas. That group gave Missouri one of the nation's top recruiting hauls at receiver in the Class of 2010. How many of them are good enough to be in the rotation? It is not out of the question that two could end up starters next fall.
Coming out of Spring: It would be at least a small surprise if any of the three starters was unseated by the end of spring ball, but it is not impossible. At the very least, Missouri seems to have many more options this year than last, which should help, especially when breaking in a new quarterback.
The Starter: No player may be more secure in his starting job that senior Michael Egnew. Last season, he caught 90 balls for 762 yards and was one of three finalists for the Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end. He is the unquestioned starter here.
The Challengers: Andrew Jones was once considered the heir apparent at tight end, but has seen his playing time dwindle since catching 20 passes as a true freshman. Jones is still in the mix, though sophomore Eric Waters better fits the mold of recent Missouri tight ends. Matt Hoch redshirted last year and should see plenty of reps in the spring. Beau Brinkley is used primarily as a longsnapper and after a fall camp injury, it seemed the staff was reluctant to risk a health problem by playing him much at tight end.
Major Spring Storyline: Honestly, there isn't one. If we had to pick, it's probably the progression of Waters. Can he play well enough to force his way on the field? In addition, if the Tigers lean on the run more, does the role increase for Jones?
Coming out of Spring: Things are set with Egnew. We expect Waters to be the second-stringer, especially in passing situations. Jones seems more of a situational guy when the Tigers need a blocker.
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