Who does Mizzou football have to step up this year?
The Mizzou football team lost back-to-back wide receivers to the NFL the past two years.
J’Mon Moore was a fourth-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers in 2018, and Emanuel Hall was a free-agent signee for the Chicago Bears this past spring.
But even with that, Mizzou brings back plenty of talent for its new quarterback Kelly Bryant.
To start, the Tigers have an all-time receiver in senior Johnathon Johnson.
He ranks in the top 10 in career yards at Mizzou, and with another 883 yards, he will pass Danario Alexander’s 2,778 career mark and leave CoMo as the all-time leader.
That’s a tough feat for Johnson, who has never had that many yards in a season. But it’s not impossible. He would need to average 73 yards a game for 12 games to get to No. 1.
Johnson remains the slot guy for the Tigers, and Bryant likely will use a lot of the slot game until he feels more comfortable getting the ball deep downfield. Even then, Johnson can burn it.
In last season’s bowl game, Johnson caught an 86-yard bomb from QB Drew Lock to get the Tigers back into the contest against Oklahoma State.
But with those downfield throws, Bryant might be looking elsewhere.
Outside, the Tigers have fellow incoming senior transfer Jonathan Nance. He led Arkansas in receptions, yards and touchdowns his junior season in 2017. His average of 15 yards a catch definitely will help, and that is just shy of Moore’s final statline at Mizzou.
On the other side, Mizzou has Jalen Knox. He led a trio of standout freshmen.
Knox finished the year with 27 receptions for for 419 yards and three touchdowns while making eight starts. Behind Knox were youngsters Kam Scott and Dominic Gicinto. Scott played in all 13 games last year, while Gicinto stepped up more toward the second half of the year and topped Scott’s production.
Barrett Banister was another freshman who stepped up in a similar role last year. He was a walk-on who now is on scholarship.
Will Mizzou have freshmen step up this season as well?
If they do, in-state talent C.J. Boone and Maurice Massey could be the guys.
For Nance, he has one season of eligibility and looks to make the most of it. Same goes for his former high school teammate, who no longer is a receiver. Top specialist Richaud Floyd moved over to defense this season.
As for other seniors looking to get on the field, Justin Smith and Alex Ofodile remain bastions for the black and gold. The 6-foot-7 Smith was slowed early in his career because of injuries and hasn’t made it up the depth chart. Ofodile was a top recruit out of Columbia in 2016 and chose to go to Oregon. He came back to Missouri last year and played in 11 games.
Khmari Thompson is missing all of camp this year with a knee injury. The redshirt freshman played in three games last year but kept his year of eligibility.
Micah Wilson won the backup quarterback job in 2017 but fell to the No. 3 spot last season. This past spring, he moved over to wide-out.
Daniel Ellinger, Tauskie Dove and Cade Musser fill out the rest of the bodies for Mizzou.
This is a young group outside of Nance and Johnson, who are expected to be the top two of three receivers for Bryant. But with the expectations that Knox, Scott, Gicinto and Co. take another step from last year, that could be big for other QBs down the road.
They all showed flashes, with Knox leading the crew in consistency. They are young, but experienced. It could be a fun year for Bryant, who is looking to up his passing game.