Missouri receivers look to replace production from Nate Brown

Wide receivers coach Andy Hill has seen a number of receivers separate themselves, but he said he’s still longing to see “consistency.”
Missouri Tigers redshirt-freshman wide receiver Justin Smith (8), front, and junior wide receiver Nate Brown (7), back, catch passes Aug. 6, 2016, at the Kadlec Practice Field in Columbia, Mo.

The Missouri receiving core didn’t need further incentive to compete heading into the second half of fall camp, but an injury sidelining junior wide receiver Nate Brown opens another spot that 12 scholarship receivers are vying for.

Brown, who last year caught 32 passes for 371 yards and four touchdowns, suffered a high ankle sprain and will be sidelined for six to eight weeks. Players won’t speak of the injury until Friday, but coach Barry Odom did speak Wednesday.

“To lose a player in practice is frustrating as a head coach, but the promising side to that is we’ll get him back,” Odom said. “Knowing Nate, his work ethic and the way that he and Rex [Sharp] will work together, we anticipate him coming back.”

Odom said that both associate athletic trainer of sports medicine in Sharp and Brown would meet again later Wednesday night to determine whether surgery is needed. If so, Odom said “it’s a pretty quick procedure,” and that the time frame remains the same. Either way, a redshirt is in play, and Odom said that the next step will be determined by Brown himself.

In the meantime, wide receivers coach Andy Hill referred to a number of players that could fill Brown’s role on the outside. In particular, he referenced senior Eric Laurent, redshirt sophomore Keyon Dilosa, sophomore Emanuel Hall, redshirt freshman Justin Smith and freshman Dominic Collins.

Five guys for one spot, hence the competition. With redshirt junior J’Mon Moore, Hill has seen an experienced receiver become more focused. In graduate transfer Chris Black, Hill has seen someone with explosive capability. Hill has seen a number of receivers separate themselves, but he said he’s still longing to see “consistency.”

“It comes down to the receivers. We are really looking forward to seeing them do it every single day,” Hill said. “It’s a grind and it’s a good challenge, and we’re two weeks and some change away from our first game and we have to separate ourselves.”

Earlier Wednesday, redshirt sophomore DeSean Blair spoke of the separation, saying he has relished this camp.

“The competition is great because you can’t get complacent, and it’s fun to work with all of these guys,” he said. “We’re all brothers and we love each other, but (the competition) is so much fun.”

Losing a guy like Brown isn’t fun, but in the end, Hill said it’s going to be a group effort to replace one of last year’s leading receivers and to assist quarterback Drew Lock and the Missouri offense.

Three more notes

1. Holmes to have surgery

In speaking of Brown’s injury, freshman offensive lineman Darvis Holmes, whose left arm was in a sling on Monday, was also spoken about on Wednesday

Coach Barry Odom said that Holmes is having a procedure on his shoulder Thursday morning and that he is hopeful Holmes will be back by the season’s end.

2. Lock wants big plays

After last year’s struggles that featured Drew Lock’s throwing of eight interceptions and 49 percent completion percentage, the sophomore quarterback said he’s still confident in what he can do.

With that comes big plays, and Lock believes the system and weapons will heed those.

“We didn’t have very many of those last year and in the games we won, there were a numerous amount of them,” Lock said. “We tracked those last year and I’m sure the offensive staff saw the lack of big plays, so if we get those, who’s to say we won’t win a lot of games.”

3. Mason explains K-9

If last year’s hype train carried Drew Lock, this year’s is headed by freshman wide receiver Dimetrios Mason.

Mason, who sports red hints at the end of his dreadlocks, has turned heads during camp, even those of Lock and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. In referring to the speedster that said he runs a 4.3 40-yard-dash, they call him “K-9.”

Mason wears the No. 9, but that’s not what bred the nickname.

“I'm a dog, and dog spelled backward is God, and that's who I play for,” Mason said.

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