Campus Corner

Young Missouri receivers have another strong scrimmage

Missouri sophomore receiver Nate Brown missed most of spring practice with a knee injury.
Missouri sophomore receiver Nate Brown missed most of spring practice with a knee injury. The Kansas City Star

Missouri’s wide receivers opened some eyes during the first scrimmage of fall camp, but the question entering the second scrimmage Thursday was if that group could back up its performance.

“We did that and more,” sophomore slot receiver Nate Brown said. “We had a lot of different guys touch the ball, a lot of different guys score and make plays. That’s what it takes to be a mature team and a developed team. We’re going to keep working in the right direction.”

The Tigers had six plays of at least 25 yards in the passing game during the first scrimmage and totaled five touchdowns on 52 receptions from 85 attempts.

Despite fewer snaps, the passing game added five more plays of at least 35 yards (from five different receivers) and matched those five touchdowns on only 43 catches from 67 attempts.

“We’re improving there,” MU coach Gary Pinkel said. “We’re just going to have to play well young, and that’s good. Why can’t young receivers play great? That’s our approach.”

Even more impressive, Missouri already was down three wide receivers Thursday for its scrimmage.

Sophomore J’Mon Moore (left shoulder sprain) remains day-to-day, while freshman Johnathon Johnson (right ankle sprain) and junior Eric Laurent (viral infection) are out indefinitely.

The Tigers didn’t need another injury there, especially with Thomas Richard (hamstring) and Richaud Floyd (ribs) only recently returning to full duty, but senior Wesley Leftwich went down during the scrimmage.

“Leftwich got a strained knee,” Pinkel said. “I think he’s going to be OK, but the one veteran player we had in there didn’t finish the scrimmage. Those young guys are getting a lot of work and they’re getting better.”

Redshirt freshman DeSean Blair, who had some dropped passes in the first scrimmage, led Missouri with five catches for 66 yards. His 38-yard bomb from Mauk set up a touchdown in the two-minute drill.

Freshmen Emanuel Hall — who had four catches for 75 yards, including a 52-yarder from Eddie Printz that set up the scrimmage-winning touchdown — and Justin Smith — who had two catches for 59 yards, including a 49-yard, third-down bomb from freshman quarterback Drew Lock that set up another TD — continue to impress.

Redshirt freshman Thomas Richard, who caught the scrimmage-winning 13-yard touchdown from Eddie Printz, also hauled in a 35-yard bomb from Marvin Zanders.

Brown finished with two catches, including a 10-yard touchdown from Maty Mauk, and redshirt freshman Ray Wingo, who moved from cornerback during the spring, also had a 10-yard touchdown, this one from Lock.

Several guys deep on the depth chart flashed during the scrimmage as well, including junior Jake Brents. He caught four passes for a team-best 80 yards and scored on a 55-yard catch and run, pin-balling off defenders as he churned the final 10 yards into the end zone.

Senior Corbin Berkstresser delivered Brents’ TD.

“It was nice,” Berkstresser said. “It was good to see him get to score a touchdown. He’s one of my good friends, so I was hoping he wouldn’t get caught there at the 5-yard line. I would have had to give him some trash for that.”

No. 19 also had a strong showing. Because he wasn’t listed on the Missouri’s roster, nobody in the press box knew who No. 19 was until after the scrimmage.

He made a nice catch for a 22-yard gain from Lock on third-and-long during red-zone work to set up a touchdown and later caught a 14-yard TD, also from Lock, absorbing a targeting-penalty shot to the face to complete the catch.

Subsequently, we learned No. 19 is Oke Akushe — a 5-foot-10, 185-pound sophomore walk-on from McCluer North in St. Louis.

“He’s a guy that came in and this past week was his first week of camp,” Brown said. “He came into this scrimmage and delivered, just like a lot of the young receivers that aren’t getting that much attention but they’re making plays.”

MU scrimmage No. 2 final stats

Passing (Comp-Att-Int): Maty Mauk 15-22-0 134 yards TD [134.3 QB rating], Drew Lock 15-20-0 168 2 TD [178.6], Eddie Printz 7-13-0 101 TD [144.5], Marvin Zanders 4-8-0 64 [117.2], Corbin Berkstresser 2-4-0 60 TD [258.5].

Receiving (Receptions-Yards): DeSean Blair 5-66, Jake Brents 4-80 TD, Emanuel Hall 4-75, Morgan Steward 4-10, Oke Akushe 3-51 TD, Kendall Blanton 3-32, Russell Hansbrough 3-18, Justin Smith 2-59, Thomas Richard 2-48 TD, Ray Wingo 2-21 TD, Nate Brown 2-15 TD, Sean Culkin 2-11, Jason Reese 2-11, Wesley Leftwich 1-13, Ish Witter 1-7, Ryan Williams 1-6, Chase Abbington 1-4, Marquise Doherty 1-0.

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

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