July 26, 2006

Wideout competition wide open this fall

Once again, Missouri enters a football season not at all sure what it will get from the wide receiver position. Since Justin Gage left, what Missouri has gotten is a whole lot of inconsistency.

Sean Coffey has been decent the last couple of years, but was neither consistent nor consistently healthy. Thomson Omboga was steady, but far from a go-to guy.

The starters to open camp are Will Franklin and Brad Ekwerekwu. Both have looked very good at times, but neither has been able to produce in even back-to-back games. Franklin had a great start to the season last year, topping 100 yards against Arkansas State, and a great finish, hauling in a number of key catches in the Independence Bowl comeback. He didn't do all that much in between. Ekwerekwu was great at Oklahoma State, both throwing and running for a touchdown. He is severely underrated as an athlete. But he proved as likely to drop a big pass as to catch it and has never lived up to the early billing.

The real exciting element here is the Tigers' youth. Maclin and Denario Alexander have drawn rave reviews during seven-on-seven. It would be surprising to see both play, simply because of the numbers game. The early guess is that Alexander redshirts along with Jared Perry while Maclin sees the field. That is due in large part to Maclin's electrifying potential as a return man in addition to his receiving ability.

The Tigers have to get production from some of their receivers. Gary Pinkel has repeatedly said he needs six or seven receivers ready to go in this offense. Ekwerekwu, Franklin, Saunders and Bracey are sure to be in the rotation. Ray, Maclin, Vaughns, Hoskins and Alexander look to be fighting for those last couple of spots.

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