Missouri’s Marcus Murphy won’t be confined to one role

08/16/2014 1:35 PM

08/16/2014 1:35 PM

That Missouri’s staff has to choose whether to use Marcus Murphy as a slot receiver or tailback this season is a myth.

Murphy, a senior from DeSoto, Texas, will play at both spots.

“It’s fair to say he’ll play some at both positions,” Tigers offensive coordinator Josh Henson said. “I like Marcus Murphy. That guy’s a playmaker. I was very impressed with him at wide receiver, and you get him back in there at tailback and see him running around making plays. You love him at tailback too. I’m just really impressed with Marcus.”

As a sophomore, Murphy emerged as one of the nation’s top return specialists, scoring on three punt returns and adding a kickoff-return touchdown.

He worked his way into the tailback rotation as a junior, amassing 92 carries for 601 yards and nine touchdowns.

Murphy, who totaled 1,425 all-purpose yards last season, worked at slot receiver for the first nine days of camp before returning to the backfield mid-week.

“It will evolve,” Henson said of how Murphy will be utilized. “Some of those things happen by game plan. What’s the best way to use him this week? Where’s the best place to use him, where does he match up best and we can get him open and get the ball in his hands? That will evolve each week.”

Freshmen receivers impress

The numbers weren’t eye-popping. Freshman wide receiver Lawrence Lee had three catches for 15 yards and fellow freshman receiver Nate Brown snagged two receptions for 10 yards.

Still, both players continued to draw rave reviews.

“They’re getting really close, and I think they can help us this year,” Henson said. “They’re both really talented guys and have done some really good things.”

Lee played up with the second team, replacing senior Gavin Otte (high ankle sprain). His most impressive moment, a one-handed catch in traffic along the sideline, didn’t officially count. He was out of bounds, but the play still resonated with teammates.

“The ones I’m really surprised with right now are Nate and Lawrence,” sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk said. “You just see Lawrence’s athletic ability on the sideline catch over there. He pulls it in one-handed. That’s what you need. You need playmakers, and he’s been showing it all camp and he’s been consistent.”

Mauk also lauded Brown’s consistency during camp as did Henson.

Baggett rebounds

Missouri junior kicker Andrew Baggett was perfect Saturday on three field mid-range field goals.

It stood in stark contrast to the first scrimmage four days earlier when Baggett, a Lee’s Summit North graduate, went three of five, including misses from 34 and 32 yards.

“Camp’s been great,” Baggett said. “At the scrimmage last time, I just kind of rushed through it. The misses weren’t the end of the world. I want to make everything. It’s not that I don’t take it seriously, but I know what I did and I’ve done really well in practice.”

Baggett connected from 38, 30 and 38 yards during Saturday’s scrimmage.

Backup QB battle remains close

The battle for the backup quarterback job remains tight, but junior Corbin Berkstresser, a Lee’s Summit graduate, might have nudged ahead Saturday.

He went 11 of 16 for 113 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while redshirt freshman Eddie Printz was nine of 15 for 73 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Both interceptions were returned for touchdowns, but Berkstresser’s came on a tipped pass, while Printz threw behind a receiver after being baited into the pass by sophomore cornerback Aarion Penton in the first place.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

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