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Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Spring shoes to fill: Missouri

By Edward Aschoff

Missouri has some offensive weapons returning in 2012, but it will be without one of its top receiving targets from a year ago:

OUT: TE Michael Egnew: His stats weren't eye-popping last season, but he was one of Missouri's most reliable pass catchers. A year removed from being a Mackey Award finalist after catching 90 passes for 762 yards and five touchdowns, Egnew was second on the team with 50 catches for 523 yards and three touchdowns. His numbers went down in 2011, but that didn't mean he wasn't important to the Tigers' offense. He made his mark catching the ball, but he was also a decent blocker and helped open up things in both the passing and running game. Missouri's offense is still looking for a big-play threat in its passing game and Egnew showed that ability at times with the Tigers. Missouri's offense has always thrived with a solid tight end in its offense, so losing Egnew is a big hit for this team.

IN: Eric Waters, Bud Sasser, Jaleel Clark, Steve Drain, Kyle Peasel or Brandon Colbert: The Tigers have a handful of players vying for time at tight end this spring, but Waters is the one that most expect to step right into Egnew's spot. He mostly played special teams last season and only caught two passes, but one went for a 42-yard touchdown. Quarterback James Franklin said earlier this spring that he had seen a ton of improvement out of Waters during preseason passing sessions. His routes looked crisper and Franklin said he started developing better chemistry with Waters before spring practice began. At 6 feet 4 inches and 240 pounds, the junior tight end is equipped with a big frame for defenders to handle, but also has quality speed to be a matchup issue through the middle of the field. Clark and Sasser are getting some work at tight end this spring in the Y-position. Incoming freshman Dorial Green-Beckham could get work there as well when he arrives. Sasser should get more playing time this fall with him getting more reps at tight end. He caught three passes last season and has the speed to stretch the field as more of a hybrid player. Clark worked primarily on special teams last year, recording seven tackles. Drain, Peasel and Colbert have yet to register stats during their Missouri careers.