Calling any performance against a team like Delaware State “a coming out party” evokes hesitation, but that’s how Damarea Crockett termed his on Saturday night.
In a contest that was lopsided from the kickoff and concluded with a 79-0 pounding, Crockett, a true freshman running back, knew he’d have an opportunity with both graduate-transfer Alex Ross and sophomore running back Nate Strong sidelined by ankle injuries.
Although junior running back Ish Witter started the game, Crockett took advantage of his opportunity running for 115 yards and two touchdowns in 12 carries. His 115 yards are the most by a Missouri running back since Russell Hansbrough’s 117 yards in last year’s game against Brigham Young.
“It felt good, it felt nice,” Crockett said following the game. “After everything that you go through in the offseason, the weight room, it felt good to go out there and dominate somebody.”
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To MU coach Barry Odom, Saturday was a sign of things to come for Crockett, a native of Little Rock, Ark.
“I think he’s continuing to develop into a freshman running back that learns every day,” Odom said. “There’s things in practice you see him do and you know he has the 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 and 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.”
Crockett’s adjustment to the college level began early. In the season-opener against West Virginia, the 5 foot 11, 220-pound running back received two carries and ran for 4 yards, but had a costly fumble as Missouri was driving in the second quarter.
Although he ran for 68 yards and his first career touchdown in 12 carries the following week against Eastern Michigan, Crockett wasn’t given the opportunity to run the ball against Georgia. He did receive the Tigers’ final kickoff return, which he also fumbled.
In speaking of ball security Saturday, Crockett said he thinks it’s held him back.
“I feel like that (it held me back) for sure because any mistake holds you back,” Crockett said. “I just try to take it like a man up and own up to what and just get it done.”
On Saturday, be it on cuts to the outside or runs between the tackles, Crockett was able to do just that. And on an offense that was ranked 89th in the country running the football according to CFB Stats, the performance came at an opportune time.
“Damarea is a hell of a freshman,” MU redshirt sophomore quarterback Marvin Zanders said. “He ran hard with a low pad level, made some good cuts. That’s a great thing to build his confidence moving forward to LSU, so when he gets in he’s still riding that high from this game.”