One of the best ways to help improve Missouri’s quarterback play would be a star turn from somebody in the wide-receiving corps.
Nobody emerged last season as a true playmaking threat for the Tigers and the entire offense, which got inconsistent play from the offensive line and had no run game to speak of, suffered as a result.
Maybe Alabama graduate-student transfer Chris Black will provide a remedy.
Aside from those hopes, Mizzou needs juniors Nate Brown and J’Mon Moore to blossom into consistent threats and reliable targets. Having Andy Hill return from a sojourn with the Tigers’ quarterbacks to coach the position should help.
Now, let’s dive into greater detail with The Star’s preseason breakdown of the wide receiver group:
Returning starters: Nate Brown, junior; J’Mon Moore, junior.
Other returning contributors: DeSean Blair, sophomore; Keyon Dilosa, sophomore; Emanuel Hall, sophomore; Eric Laurent, senior; Ray Wingo, sophomore.
Newcomers: Chris Black, senior; Dominic Collins, junior; Richaud Floyd, redshirt freshman; Johnathon Johnson, redshirt freshman; Dimetrios Mason, freshman; Justin Smith, redshirt freshman.
Projected 2016 starters: Black (slot), Brown and Moore.
Outlook: A lot is riding on senior Chris Black, a graduate-student transfer from Alabama. He’s expected to lead and, if healthy, help shoulder the load for the receiving group. Black was limited by a left ankle injury last season that required season-ending surgery in November. He made 25 catches for 290 yards with two touchdowns in three seasons for the Crimson Tide, but Black was among the most-hyped receiver prospects in the country entering college. If he can put it together and realize his athletic potential, a star might be born.
It would help immensely if juniors Nate Brown and J’Mon Moore stepped up their game as well. Both started last season for Mizzou, but neither emerged as a big-play threat. Moore led the Tigers with 29 catches and 350 yards, adding three touchdowns, while Brown finished with 27 catches for 326 yards and a team-high four touchdowns. The pair averaged an identical 12.1 yards per reception, but Missouri needs more in terms of chunk plays, consistency and overall production in 2016.
There’s no shortage of options if any of the most-experience players and projected starters stumble. Sophomores DeSean Blair, Keyon Dilosa, Emanuel Hall and Ray Wingo all got some experience last season and should benefit entering the second season on the field. Senior Eric Laurent, whose promising camp was sideline by illness last summer, is steady, if unspectacular.
But the depth doesn’t stop there. Look for redshirt freshmen Johnathon Johnson, Richaud Floyd and Justin Smith to push for reps along with junior-college transfer Dominic Collins, who wasn’t brought in to spectate, and freshman Dimetrios Mason, a lightly recruited but speedy prospect. Obviously, all of those guys can’t play, but somewhere in that multitude of players, surely Missouri has some guys who can be difference-makers for an offense that sorely needs them.