University of Missouri

Mizzou is deep at wide receiver. Who has emerged to compliment QB Kelly Bryant?

Finding the leader of Missouri’s wide receiver room really comes down to who you ask.

Sophomores Kam Scott and Dominic Gicinto send you to senior Johnathon Johnson, who is closing in on the program’s career receiving record.

Some of MU’s freshmen say Arkansas grad transfer Jonathan Nance, the other wideout with the most experience. Both Nance and Johnson will send you elsewhere.

“It’s by committee,” said Garrick McGee, MU’s wideouts coach. “There’s no doubt it’s by committee.”

The dynamic of Missouri’s wide receivers has changed. In 2018, seniors Emanuel Hall and Nate Brown were the unquestioned leaders.

This season, Johnson will be paired with Nance, a veteran who joined the program in January. In addition to the two seniors, Missouri has Gicinto, Scott and Jalen Knox, all sophomores who’ve had extensive playing time. Two more seniors, Justin Smith and Alex Ofodile, are two players who haven’t played a ton but are important to the locker room, McGee said.

With the graduation of Hall, who is now with the Chicago Bears, MU has no true No. 1 receiver to pair with quarterback Kelly Bryant, but a lot of experience at the position.

Nance and Knox currently sit atop MU’s depth chart along with Johnson, and it’s hard to see anyone taking their spots as starters. Knox is primed for a breakout season after catching 27 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns. He looks more defined physically and said he added about eight pounds of muscle since his true freshman season.

This preseason, Nance has made some incredible one-handed catches and has been used in the slot and out wide.

“He’s now showing what he can do,” said Derek Dooley, MU’s offensive coordinator. “He’s not a one-trick pony. He’s a good, every-down receiver.”

Behind the three starters, Missouri has Gicinto, Barrett Bannister, Ofodile and Scott, who has drawn comparisons to Hall for his ability to get downfield.

Pushing their way onto the depth chart are freshmen C.J. Boone and Maurice Massey. At 6-foot-3, Massey is one of MU’s most physically defined freshmen and is likely to get snaps after an impressive one-handed catch during Monday’s practice.

Bryant said Massey has the makings of a special player and is impressed by his ability to make plays in the air.

“Maurice doesn’t back down from anybody,” Knox said.

In 2018, A.J. Ofodile coached Missouri’s wideouts before being moved to tight ends this past spring.

Gicinto said Ofodile emphasized route-running while McGee, a former quarterback at Oklahoma, has tried to get his players to read defenses better and understand where they fit into the offensive scheme.

With the amount of options Missouri has at wide receiver, it could be a position that changes weekly or sees an expansion in the rotation.

“We want to play a lot of guys,” McGee said. “A lot of people talk about starters, I like to talk about finishers, guys that you want in the game when the game is on the line. That’s what they’re competing for. It’s a lot of depth, we’re trying to keep people fresh.”

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Alex Schiffer has been covering the Missouri Tigers for The Star since October 2017. He came in second place for magazine-length feature writing by the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association in 2018 and graduated from Mizzou in 2017.