This spring, the Missouri Tigers offense will be filled with fresh new faces. With the departures of stars like Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman, it is the spring practices that will decide who steps into those roles, and the wide receiver position is one with plenty of openings.
Last season, Jeremy Maclin was a national star, scoring touchdowns and setting records. This April he will be taken in the first round of the NFL draft.
Jared Perry and Danario Alexander were also both big contributers to the clubs offense, but they are both sitting the spring out due to injury. This leaves room for 6-foot-4 sophomore Wes Kemp to take the reps with the first string this spring.
"I think it will help a lot," Kemp said about running with the first string offense this spring. "But more importantly, Danario and Jared Perry coaching us up, the young guys, on the sideline. It's always good for guys who have already been in the fire, already know what they are doing to coach us up on the little things that we need to clean up to get better day by day."
Without Alexander or Perry on the spring depth chart, the Wes and all of the other receivers will need to pick up the slack.
"All of the receivers that we've got now need to step up and make plays," he said. "We cannot have any drop offs, they may be hurting now, but they will be back in the fall."
On the field Saturday, Wes Kemp and Blaine Gabbert looked like they had been playing together for years. Their chemistry is extremely strong, and this could be a duo to look for over the next few seasons.
"Blaine's a nice quarterback, he makes all of the reads, all of the throws," Wes began. "He is big, he ran a 4.51 in the offseason, and that's and electronic time too. He can do it all, he's incredible to say the least."
Wes came into this spring season with a different mentality than last year. With a seasons worth of talent under his belt, he says that he is much more prepared this time around.
"It's fun in the spring, and different this year. The receivers this year know the plays, and now it is more of cleaning up the little things, staying relaxed, and playing football."
Saturday was the first spring practice in full pads, and for Kemp that was a relief. "Just helmets wasn't very fun because the defense was trying to hit with just helmets, but now we've got pads so we can even up the score."
This season full of young players should be an interesting on to say the least. The speed and athleticism of players like Wes Kemp is very exciting, but the lack of experience could come back to haunt Mizzou.
If he can keep up the level of play from the first three practices, we can expect a solid season from this sophomore.