Missouri football: Ranking the 10 best freshmen over the past 5 seasons
The Missouri Tigers are bringing in an intriguing 2021 recruiting class. The leaders are 4-star DE Travion Ford, 4-star WR Dominic Lovett and 3-star QB Tyler Macon.
We’ll find out this season if any of those guys are ready to contribute as true freshmen. Over the past 5 years, the Tigers have managed to get some big contributions out of true freshmen, so it isn’t out of the question.
Running backs and kickers have generally fared well as freshmen at Mizzou, as have receivers. Defenders haven’t had as smooth of a transition, but there are a couple of standouts. Also, the 2016 class had 4 impact freshmen, more than any other class included in this list.
Here’s a look at Mizzou’s 10 best true freshmen (sorry, Albert O.) over the past 5 seasons:
10. Tucker McCann, K (2016)
McCann probably wasn’t ready for the full-time kicking duties as a true freshman, but Mizzou didn’t have many options. He still managed to be decent, connecting on 6-of- 12 field-goal tries and 39-of-43 extra points. Fortunately, his numbers improved as his career went on. He wasn’t as good as another true freshman kicker we’ll get to later on, though.
9. Kam Scott, WR (2018)
Scott only had 8 catches as a true freshman in 2018, but 2 went for touchdowns. He also had 214 total yards, meaning his catches averaged 26.8 yards. That’s rather impressive for a true freshman against SEC competition. It’s a shame his career didn’t work out in Columbia, because he could have been a talented player in Eli Drinkwitz’s offense.
8. Jalen Knox, WR (2018)
Knox was the better half of the Kam Scott/Jalen Knox freshman receiver tandem. Knox made 27 grabs for 419 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2018. He has yet to match those numbers in the past 2 seasons, but he has the opportunity to make his presence felt this fall. Another year of Connor Bazelak could be the best quarterback play Knox has gotten since Drew Lock’s senior season in 2018.
7. Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB (2020)
Eli Drinkwitz was absolutely pumped to land Rakestraw before last season. And the Texas native didn’t disappoint. He held his own against a loaded receiver group in the SEC. He finished with 24 tackles (2 for a loss), a sack and 6 pass breakups. He has all the makings of a future star.
6. Dimetrios Mason, WR (2016)
Mason broke onto the scene in a big way in 2016, recording 47 catches for 587 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was 2nd on the team that year behind J’Mon Moore in each category. Unfortunately, he didn’t work out at Mizzou, as he was dismissed from the team for disciplinary reasons in late September of 2017. After the promise he showed as a freshman, it would have been nice to see him stay on the team, but it wasn’t meant to be.
5. Cale Garrett, LB (2016)
Even on a team with Donavin Newsom and Michael Scherer manning the linebacker spots, Garrett made an impact as a freshman in 2016. His 47 tackles were good for 7th on the team. He had 6 tackles for a loss, snagged an interception and also had 2 pass breakups. Of course, he went on to be an elite linebacker for the Tigers later in his career, but he showed flashes of that brilliance as a true freshman.
4. Tyler Badie, RB (2018)
Badie has been a versatile weapon since he first stepped on campus. He backed up Larry Rountree III and Damarea Crockett in 2018 but still made an impact, running for 437 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had 12 catches for 120 yards. Oh, and he also returned 11 kickoffs, averaging 22 yards per return.
That was just an appetizer for the sort of versatile back Badie has become the past 2 seasons. He could be set for an even bigger year in Drinkwitz’s offense as a senior this fall.
3. Larry Rountree III (2017)
Rountree burst onto the scene in 2017 as Crockett’s backup, and he wasted no time making an impact. He ran for 703 yards and 6 touchdowns as a true freshman and also returned 25 kickoffs for 538 total yards.
He showed he had strength and vision on this run:
— Joe (@JDec89) February 10, 2018
Of course, Rountree went on to become one of the best running backs in recent Mizzou history. His freshman season shouldn’t be lost in the mix when looking back at his incredible career as a Tiger.
2. Harrison Mevis, K (2020)
McCann scored 57 points for Mizzou as a true freshman in 2016. Mevis scored 79 in 2020. McCann made 39-of-43 extra points. Mevis went a perfect 28-for-28. He also made 17-of-20 field-goal tries.
Oh, and he did this to beat Arkansas as time expired in regulation:
— CFB Pylon (@TheCFBPylon) December 5, 2020
Mevis is back for the 2021 campaign. If he can improve on his electric freshman year, he could eventually go down as one of Mizzou’s all-time great special teams players.
1. Damarea Crockett, RB (2016)
Crockett had his best year as a Tiger when he was a true freshman in 2016. He ran for 1,062 yards, averaging 6.9 yards per carry, and had 10 touchdowns. He was a key part of the backfield the next 2 years, too, but he never matched any of those numbers from 2016.
As a true freshman, he ran for 4 touchdowns in a bizzare loss to Middle Tennessee:
— Garrett Giles (@ggibitgiles2) October 22, 2016
He probably made a mistake leaving school early, but his freshman campaign was one to remember. And, it was undoubtedly the best freshman season a Mizzou player has had in the past 5 years. Now, we’ll see if anyone in this year’s freshman class can match it.