Knox and Badie provide youthful spark to Missouri offense

Just under a third of Missouri’s offensive yardage against Purdue was produced by the two freshmen.
Wide receiver Jalen Knox speaks to members of the media after a Tuesday practice on Sept. 18, 2018. Knox's five catch, 110-yard performance, which included a 59-yard touchdown, landed him SEC freshman of the week

Senior receiver Emanuel Hall summed up freshman Jalen Knox’s week three performance in simplest terms Tuesday.

“Dude,” Hall said, “he balled.”

Knox’s 5-catch, 110-yard performance last Saturday landed the freshman wide receiver the honor of SEC freshman of the week.

His performance, which included a 59-yard touchdown catch, was a key factor in a narrow road win at Purdue.

Hall mentioned he was proud of the young pass catcher’s performance, but both he and receivers coach A.J. Ofodile knew just how warranted his contributions were.

“It speaks to, more than anything I think, his physical attributes,” Ofodile said. “He’s fast, but he’s built like a safety or a running back as a freshman.”

Knox — who is listed at 6-foot, 195 pounds — was a four-star athlete in the 2017 recruiting class according to ESPN. He ran a 4.51 40-yard dash in high school.

While Knox showcased an impactful blend of size and speed, his coach knows all of the young wideout’s tools don’t necessarily show up on film.

“With us, he’s business,” Ofodile said. “He’s serious every day. He’s a high-character kid, so really diligent about taking care of all his responsibilities whether it be game plan, whether it be academics … that’s exciting when you have a kid like that that’s got all those character traits and has all those athletic traits too.”

Hall also echoed Ofodile’s sentiments of Knox’s mental makeup.

“Definitely the most mature freshman in the room,” Hall called him. “That’s honestly why he’s so good. He’s learned from me and Nate, the guys who have been here for a minute … If he keeps working and staying humble, I think he’s going to be really good.”

According to Drew Lock, Knox — who’s tallied 169 total receiving yards on 10 catches this season— has stood out among a core of young receivers (six true freshman wideouts are currently on the Missouri roster) since the start of fall camp.

“I think we came into the summer with those three younger guys — Khamari (Thompson), Kam (Scott) and Jalen,” Lock said, “we rotated them every single week. We knew some of them were going to have to make plays for us this year and we were just going to give it to someone that came in.”

Of those three, Knox showed out.

“Jalen towards the end [of the summer] just kept rising and impressing,” Lock said. “He plays like a vet as a super young guy … He really looks like a creature out there, it’s just awesome.”

After Tuesday’s practice, Lock also talked about running back Tyler Badie’s performance over the weekend, specifically a 20-yard reception to start the game-winning drive against Purdue.

“I think Tyler’s instincts just took over for him,” Lock said. “I think when he saw the guy he chopped get back up, he was like, ‘Okay, well, I’ve got to get back up.’ And he just kind of floated to the sideline away from me and started calling my name … I think that was a great play by him.”

The freshman has quietly had one of the more productive seasons among Missouri running backs. He’s second on the team in rushing yards with 140.

“He’s just a ballplayer,” Lock said of Badie. “He knows how to go hard every single play. You’re not going to get anything but 100 percent from him every single play.”

Coach Barry Odom said Tuesday that Badie’s performance certainly didn’t solidify him as the most dynamic player on Missouri’s offense, but he’s been impressed by the young back’s abilities to this point.

“He’s picked up things at a rapid level for a freshman,” Odom said. “But we expect those guys to be able to do that … He’s got a lot to learn, but he’s getting there and the thing with Tyler is he likes to ball. And that’s one of those redeeming qualities that we look for in recruiting, that guys who just like to go play and they understand once they get into the system how the can be valuable. He’s embraced that and continues to grow.”

Badie made clear Tuesday that being on a football program is like being apart of a “brotherhood” and if that’s the case, then Badie and Knox both proved Saturday that they were there for their brothers.

Combined, the two had 61 yards rushing and 6 catches for 130 totals yards against Purdue, including one touchdown. The two have also combined for 329 total yards from scrimmage over the first three games.

Going up against an FCS program and just one power five team in the first three weeks, Knox and Badie’s production will be intriguing to follow heading into conference play against No. 2 Georgia this Saturday.

Edited by Bennett Durando |

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